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City Council to Reconsider Ditch Repairs Along Poplar and Bentley

Two of the five ditch projects voted down last week will get a second chance at the next City Council meeting.

will revisit two of the five at the April 2 meeting, after an at times tense Administrative/Finance Committee discussion Monday night.

Bentley and Poplar—the two roads of those five that were also set for resurfacing in 2012—will come up for council vote again next Monday after Ward 3 Alderman John Poteraske suggested reconsidering just those ditches.

Repairs on the ditches along Bentley and Poplar would cost $223,800, a savings of $535,000 over the original slate of five ditches. 

Poteraske said, however, that he also wants the council to develop a long-term plan for funding the ditch projects.

“What we need is a funding mechanism,” he said.

Ward 7 Alderman Halil Avci argued throughout this year’s budget talks that the city’s . He agreed that infrastructure maintenance is crucial to the city’s enduring health, but he said that the city needed to come up with a strategy to ensure funding for programs such as the ditch repairs remains consistent. (Avci was not at Monday’s committee meeting.) 

“We’re basically depleting the funds and kicking the can down the road and not addressing the real issue, which is we have these ditch projects that we started,” Avci said at the April 2 City Council meeting. “But we don’t have a path for how we’re going to pay for it. In my mind, that’s not the way to budget.” 

Three Crest Road residents attended the committee meeting to share the impact deteriorating ditches have had on their neighborhood. 

Resident Jack Morge said at times, water backs up to within 12 feet of his house. As much as five feet of water has pooled in neighbors’ backyards, he said.

Morge lives just to the east of three of the roads originally up for ditch repairs in 2012—Brookbank, Eleanor and Roger.

His neighbor, Marvin Barmes, said it was disheartening to see the city come so close to fixing the ditches only to have the projects voted down. Barmes, who worked for the city for 21 years, said he’s put about $40,000 into home renovations during the past five years knowing that the nearby ditches would soon receive upgrades.

“I helped build this city and now I’m getting a kick in the ass for it,” he said. “Please understand, I just sunk all this money in my house. … You don’t even understand the problem.”

Last summer, Municipal Services Director Dan Gombac developed a catalog based on the severity of their problems. Starting this year, the city used the list to help determine which ditches to revamp.

City Administrator Bryon Vana said the City Council could schedule a committee-of-the-whole meeting to develop a strategy for ensuring the city has the funding to keep future repairs on track.

City Council will discuss whether to complete the work on Poplar and Bentley at the next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 16 at .

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