City Council discusses getting roundabout done by end of July
Much of the time of an unusually long meeting of the Quincy City Council was filled with discussion of a proposal to close temporarily the intersection currently torn up for construction of a roundabout.
Council member Andrew Royer was absent from the June 18 meeting.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, one resident stood and spoke. Dwight Needens had two requests: that the city build two east-west streets to connect 13th Avenue SW to other streets, one on the south side of Lauzier Park and one on the north side of Monument Elementary, citing safety and congestion issues; and for minimum-impact speed bumps on Central Avenue between Cenex and the intersection with State Route 28, because the 20 mph speed limit is largely ignored there.
Then Mayor Paul Worley presented three service awards, to: Maintenance Supervisor Dave Reynolds who is retiring; City Administrator Tim Snead, who is retiring; and Silvia Esparza, student representative, who has graduated high school and is on her way to college. Worley thanked them for their service to the city.
Snead presented information on business owners’ interest in closing State Route 28 at 13th Avenue SW for up to 10 working days in order to complete the roundabout project by the end of July. Snead said the city committee that deals with such issues did not make a recommendation, instead leaving it to the full council to discuss. This triggered a very long and unusually involved discussion among council members, city staff and individuals attending the meeting.
Council member Sonia Padron was concerned about commuters and emergency vehicles that use the highway.
“I don’t think that’s an option,” she said.
Council member Luke Garrison spoke in favor of closure.
Mayor Worley agreed with Padron on wanting to keep the road open.
Council member Tom Harris wanted to keep the road open – at first. Harris eventually supported closing the highway to get construction done sooner. After the meeting, he said the long discussion brought out a lot of good information that helped him decide to support the closure option.
Businesses in the commercial area along 13th requested the closure option because the traffic slowdown at the intersection has negatively affected their businesses. Representatives from at least two businesses – Mike’s BBQ and Smoked Meats, and Ace Hardware – were at the meeting.
Recreation Director Russ Harrington said that closing the intersection would affect the many soccer teams using Lauzier Park.
In the audience, Mark Owens suggested compensating businesses that were losing sales. Mike McKee of Mike’s BBQ and Smoked Meats said he supported closure without insisting on any other access plan during the closure. He said he would just not open for business in that period.
Fire Chief Don Fortier said he was always concerned about anything that slows response time for emergency personnel, but said, “You guys have a tough decision,” a comment that drew laughter.
It was said that other agencies would have to review the closure plan before it could be implemented, making a quick decision more important.
Council member Josey Ferguson said the issue was not due to the city but because of the state Department of Transportation delaying the project 20 days.
Council member David Durfee Jr. made the motion for closure, pending qualifications, including that the contractor agree to a guarantee of completing the project by the end of July. The motion carried.
However, the closure option was up in the air as of June 21, because the contractor declined, according to Snead.
There were numerous engineering proposals brought for a vote in the same meeting. Most were approved with little or no discussion.
Two significant motions were also approved: one creating a public works director position, and the other creating an engineering administrative assistant position.
The public works director will be a department head over engineering, maintenance, building development and safety, responsible for all municipal services.
Toward the end of the meeting, Worley again said, “I want to thank Tim and Dave and Silvia for all their hard work.”
His remark was followed by council members all thanking the three for their service to the city and offering congratulations. Deputy City Administrator Pat Haley said of Snead and Reynolds, there are “55 years walking out the door in combined experience.”
Reynolds and then Snead gave speeches bidding farewell to the council and city staff. Their remarks were thoughtful, heartfelt and expressed thanks to the city.
“I really do love this community,” Reynolds said, adding that he hoped it showed in his work. He worked for the city for 41 years.
In his view, public works employees are heroes, providing essential services to everyone in town with little thanks and sometimes at hazard to themselves. In winter they get cursed at for not plowing and cursed at when they do plow snow off the streets, Reynolds said.
“I have to say this has been one heck of a ride,” Snead said.
He came to work in the city in 2005 as administrator and saw many changes and growth. Among the changes he listed were population growth; property value growth; lower levies; public buildings built; police department staffing increases; and data centers.
“I could not have asked for better teammates,” Snead said of city staffers.
He also thanked city councils past and present, saying they made his job easy, meaning they had broad agreement on bringing forward improvements for Quincy.
“We want to do what’s best for the community,” Snead said.
A public reception is planned for two retiring city officials, City Administrator Tim Snead and Maintenance Supervisor Dave Reynolds. The event is 4-6 p.m. Friday, June 28, at City Hall. The public is invited.
By Dave Burgess, email@example.com