- Associated Press - Saturday, July 5, 2014

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (AP) - A plan to improve Dakota City’s streets is getting another look by city officials. But some residents still are balking at the price they would have to pay.

City Administrator Brent Clark said the city’s plan to pave 136 blocks of gravel roads would cost anywhere from $7 million to $8 million. With approximately $4.3 million coming from the city’s general obligation bonds, that leaves the balance to be paid for by property owners within a half-block of the roadwork.

“Everybody wants paving, just not the costs associated with paving,” Clark told the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1mlT3ql). “Anytime you have a project where there are assessments on property owners, there will be opposition.”

Two options - a block gap paving project, which completes one block in each direction of a paved intersection - and creation of 10-block paving districts all have met with opposition from property owners, he said.

Gravel surfaces create major problems for residents and city crews when it comes to drainage, maintenance and weather conditions, said Clark.

He estimated the city, which has a population of about 2,000, spends roughly $215,000 a year on gravel road maintenance and grading. The current piece of equipment used to maintain the surfaces is about 40 years old.

Several informational meetings have been held over the past three years to update residents on the current costs of the paving project. The most recent was May 27.

According to the most recent calculations, property owners on affected streets would pay anywhere from $300 to $800 each year for 15 years, depending on the size of their lot.

Erv Schock, who lives on Broadway Street, said he would have to pay to have a section of his road paved. But it would be a waste of money, he said.

“That street that passes by me, hardly anyone uses it,” he said. “It’d be unnecessary.”

Schock said he has voiced his concerns to the City Council when given the opportunity and said some of his neighbors feel the same way.

However, some residents have offered support for the paving project even though they don’t like the price tag.

“I do have a problem with paying but it’s going to be better for our city and easier for my children to play outside,” said Wendy Raff, who lives on Cedar Street.

In their current state, the roads pose a safety hazard to motorists and are not conducive to winter weather traveling, she said.

“Why shouldn’t it be done?” added Randy Grove, who has lived on Pine Street for the past nine years. “Of course nobody wants to pay for it, but it has to be done.”

Grove said he would have to pay a considerable amount for the project, as he owns several lots along gravel roads. However, he wants to see the project completed to improve the land’s property value and make the city more appealing for visitors and potential residents.

Roy Strong, a Dakota City resident for 72 years who lives on Olive Street, recalled similar opposition when his father, Charles Strong, served as Dakota City mayor in the 1960s.

“When paving first started, the attitude at that time is the same as it is right now,” he said. “But after they (citizens) thought about it, they came around and I’m hoping what’s going to happen this year. It’s overdue and we need it.”

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