The decision to pave three alleys along with several streets under the city’s regular street maintenance program raised eyebrows with some residents, but Mayor Herb Adams said the decision to pave alleys is sound and should move forward.
Some residents have questioned the decision to pave alleys when there are deteriorating streets that need attention.
One alley was singled out for criticism.
The 16-foot-wide alley, which has never been paved, is located on the east side of Fourth Street just across the street from Walker Products. It touches three properties, according to City Engineer Dan Rahn, and the property owners use the alley to enter their garages.
“It is platted as an alley and owned by Pacific and it serves at least three lots,” Rahn said. One property owner requested it be paved and another agreed, Rahn said.
“The alley goes all the way through to the railroad tracks, but we are only paving approximately 150 feet,” Rahn said. “We will pave only enough to get access for the property owners.”
The cost to pave that alley will be approximately $1,800, which represents approximately 1.5 percent of the total budget for the overlays the city is doing this year.
Adams said it is the right thing to do to pave an alley that leads from a street to the garages of two property owners but does not go through. He said there are plans to eventually pave every alley in the city.
After the list of streets and alleys to be paved was made public, a citizen questioned the decision to spend taxpayer funds to pave the Fourth Street alley, which is used only as access to two private garages, when there are street improvement needs elsewhere in the city.
“If the argument is that no alleys should be paved until all streets in the city are repaired, that might be a valid argument to have,” Adams said. “But I began paving alleys in 1990 and believe in the long run it is the right thing for the city to do.
“Paved alleys require less maintenance than gravel alleys,” he said. “This one is being paved because a resident requested it.” Adams said it is not unusual for the city to respond to a request from a citizen to complete a public works project near their property.
“We had a residence on Congress that was plagued with stormwater problems,” Adams said. “At the resident’s request, we installed stormwater improvements there.”
The city has to continue to improve the infrastructure in increments, he said, completing several projects a year as the budget allows.
“At one time we had gravel streets, but we have no gravel streets now because we paved them as we could afford to,” Adams said. “The paving project is working the way it is supposed to. Eventually all of our alleys will be paved.”