City Gearing Up For “Massive” Ellis Street Project
by Brandi Makuski
Ellis Street is slated for a major overhaul in 2013.
Board of Public Works Director Scott Schatschneider said a six- block section of the street, lined with single family homes, will be completely reconstructed in spring of next year.
“It’s important because that section is completely outdated- it’s our main project for 2013,” he said at an October board meeting.
The project has been in the city’s comprehensive plan since 2006.
City officials recently approved borrowing $1 million for the project, which entails completely updating the roadway and utility systems between Division Street and Michigan Avenue, which is said to be among the oldest in the city.
“Some of that (storm drainage) goes back to the 1920’s, maybe earlier, I don’t know,” said board member Jerry Moore. “Can you imagine the mess that’s got to be down there?”
Alderman Mike O’Meara asked public works officials to consider also repaving the basketball court located at the old Emerson Elementary School site.
“Since we’re going to have people over there anyway, it would be a lot cheaper to have that court repaved then, instead of hiring someone to come and take care of it later,” O’Meara said.
“That court is occupied all year, right up until there’s a foot of snow on the ground.”
Halverson did not say whether O’Meara’s request would be considered, but did say he hoped to work something out with the school district, which owns the land, to create a more useful and attractive area for residents.
He also told the Board of Public Works the Ellis Street project would require cooperation between several different departments, saying time was of the essence in order for the project to begin on time.
The mayor did however ask for reconsideration of the engineering firm recommended by public works officials, citing major cost savings potential if another firm was used, and has since scheduled a special board of public works meeting for November 26 to discuss the matter further, with board approval.
“If we can save the taxpayer’s money and ultimately get the same work done, I think it’s in our best interest to exhaust that conversation prior to making a final decision,” Halverson told the board.
The project calls for new sanitary, water main and curb and gutter storm sewer installation, and conduits to existing neighboring systems. Ellis Street itself will likely be reconstructed in concrete. No new street lighting is currently in the plans.
Construction is tentatively slated to run from June to October of 2013.