- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) - In hopes of enticing future development, the city of Bettendorf wants to build a new bridge north of Interstate 80, but the owner of the private land is not willing to sell.

The city offered Harvey Klindt, who farms on 147 acres in Bettendorf, $35,000 for 2.1 acres of land west of Devils Glen Road and east of Utica Ridge Road, but the farmer claims his property is worth more than that.

“I’m not looking to sell my best farm ground, but if they’re going to take it for public good, then I feel I need to have more compensation,” said Klindt, who called the portion of land his “crown gem,” and the proposed bridge a “bridge to nowhere.”

In meetings last week, City Council members heard from Klindt as they debated whether to use the powers of eminent domain to take ownership of the property, the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/1FYxao0 ) reports.

By the end of the discussion, council members had decided unanimously to table the issue until their next meeting, April 21.

Currently, there is a bridge north of Interstate 80 that spans Spencer Creek on Devils Glen Road, but the city closed it in January 2014. Missman Inc., a Rock Island-based engineering consulting firm, deemed it “structurally inadequate” during one of its biannual inspections, public works director Brian Schmidt said.

The city has three options for the bridge. Crews could replace the bridge where it currently stands for $450,000, take advantage of state funding to realign Devils Glen Road and build a newer, “safer and wider” bridge for 230,000 or leave the defunct bridge closed, Schmidt said.

The estimated cost for the new bridge, which would last 50 to 75 years, is $1.15 million, but the state would pay for 80 percent of it, Schmidt added.

The new bridge would allow the city eventually to extend Devils Glen Road farther north to the intersection at 210th Street and 215th Avenue, a designated move in Bettendorf’s long-term transportation plan, Schmidt said.

Klindt, who lives just north of the Bettendorf city limits in Scott County, said he can understand the city wanting to replace the bridge at a low cost, but he argued that the lack of development in the area and “the traffic count at this time does not justify that kind of project.”

Some aldermen, who hinted they may not be fans of eminent domain in this particular case, agreed.

“It’s like getting federal funding to put a Hy-Vee in the middle of a cornfield,” Bettendorf Alderwoman Debe LaMar, 3rd Ward, said. “It’s going to be a great project someday, just not right now.”

While Klindt has not made the city an official counter-offer, City Attorney Kristine Stone said he wanted closer to $30,000 per acre, about twice as much as the city’s original offer, which is about 10 percent higher than the property’s appraised value.

“I’m not sure if the city would go that high, but we may be able to reach a compromise to get the project done,” Stone added. “We just haven’t been able to meet in the middle.”

City Administrator Decker Ploehn said he does not foresee development occurring north of Interstate 80 for another 10 or 20 years.

“You always try to build something toward the future, and when you have an opportunity to plan for the future and do it for fewer dollars, that seems to make sense,” he added.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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