Citizens could determine fate of plans for Green Park Road

Former alderman believes city could have received more federal funds for road project

By BURKE WASSON

As city leaders continue to plan for improvements to Green Park Road, the will of nearby residents could determine whether the project is completed as proposed.

Engineer Tom Weis of the Weis Design Group, who the city of Green Park has hired to design the widening project, said last week at a public hearing that owners of property along the road would be asked to sign right-of-way permits if their property needs to be altered in construction.

Nearly every property owner along Green Park Road would be asked to also sign a temporary grading license for the project to be completed, he added.

“With the grading, almost every one of you that lives along that street will be asked to sign the temporary grading licenses,” Weis said at the Oct. 30 public hearing. “It’s not even an easement. It’s a license that says when the project goes away, then it becomes null and void. So it’s not a permanent right of way.

“Some people will not be as affected. Other people, it could be a significant portion of your property and a significant portion of your yard will be replaced. We’ll be replacing yards with sod. We’ll also be replacing driveways.”

As proposed and preliminarily designed by Weis, Green Park Road would be widened by two feet in each lane to make 12-foot lanes on each side. The estimated $2.2 million project — 80 percent of which will be funded through a federal grant — would stretch roughly 6,000 feet along Green Park Road from Tesson Ferry Road to Lin Valle Drive.

Weis’ preliminary design plans call for eliminating drop-offs and ditches from the road and replacing them with curbs on each side. Because the curbing would replace ditches on each side of the road, a storm sewer would be installed across the length of Green Park Road to ensure efficient stormwater flow.

Weis also said substantial grade changes would need to be made at the road’s intersections with Kohrs Lane, Mueller Road and Lisa Marie Court to improve sight-line visibility and provide better curb alignment.

In an effort to reduce the number of vehicles lined along the road near its intersection with Tesson Ferry Road, an additional right turn lane off Green Park Road has been proposed at that stoplight.

For pedestrian access, Weis’ plan proposes a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the road’s south side, where a majority of homes along the road are located. Green Park Road also would see crosswalks at Mueller Road, Antrill Drive and possibly other intersections to allow for easier access to Clydesdale Park, which is on the road’s north side.

Some residents at last week’s public hearing expressed concern that the sidewalk is proposed on the road’s south side because of the possibility of abutting their property.

“It seems as though you’ve got 30-some residents on this side of the street and only three on the north side,” said Tim Thuston, who lives near the corner of Green Park and Mueller roads. “And for the safety of the people that are going to be traveling on the sidewalks themselves, doesn’t it make sense to have sidewalk traffic on the north side of the street? The people that live on this (south) side are going to go across the street. They’re not going to go down the sidewalk to get to someone’s house. They’re going across the street to get to the park. They’re going to be crossing anyway. So having the sidewalk on the residents’ side makes no difference. It should be on the other side to take the non-resident traffic.”

Weis said that the city would need to ask any property owner who may be affected by the sidewalk for a grading license or a right-of-way permit, which prompted Ward 1 Alderman Judy Betlach to ponder whether the whole project would be jeopardized if not enough signatures could be garnered.

“You’re going to ask people to sign this grading permit,” Betlach said to Weis. “And if they say no, eminent domain? Or is it going to hold up the project or what?”

“That’s a tricky question,” Weis said. “I’ll try to address it a little bit. There are some things that we can do, but not many. Because of the grades of the road and trying to balance the horizontal curve problem up and down and try to put in a sidewalk and try to eliminate ditches, including curbs and stormwater … if we had a hundred-foot right of way, it wouldn’t be any problem. We don’t. We definitely need the residents’ cooperation. The city does in order to get this thing done. No question about it. But yes, it would cause a problem for the project. I hope that it never gets to that. I certainly think the street would be much better than what you have now. In a year and a half or two years from now, you’re going to have a nice street with sidewalks and stormwater control and a place for residents to walk to the parks from side streets. And no chance to fall off the edge of the road. There’s benefit. If it’s one or two (unsigned) residents, we might be able to work around it. If it’s a whole bunch, the project would be in jeopardy.”

Weis indicated that he would like to present right-of-way and easement estimates in the spring to the Board of Al-dermen. At that time, the city would then have the responsibility to collect the appropriate signatures needed to move forward with the project.

“These signatures would need to be acquired by July because the final plans and the easements that are signed and recorded and the estimates that we’re preparing for you, they’re all to be turned in to MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) and their target is at the end of August for that,” Weis said. “They will go through the approval-review process, and then we’ll probably be issued the authority to bid the project a year from now. So in November (2007), we would like to get the authority to be able to bid.”

Construction then likely would begin in the spring of 2008.

That construction design itself and the city’s methods of being approved for federal funding on the project were also put into question at the public hearing by former Ward 2 Alderman Fred Hoehn.

Hoehn proposed that Green Park Road be reconstructed as a three-lane street to allow for more fluid access and easier turns for drivers, which he said would result in im-proving safety.

Hoehn also said that after a recent conversation with Terry Freeland, a consultant for the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council, he believes that the city could have received more federal funding for the project. East-West Gateway coordinated the funding for the Green Park Road reconstruction with the city.

The former alderman believes the city did not provide East-West Gateway with as much documentation as was requested in the application, according to Hoehn’s review of the city’s original grant application for the project. Specifically, he said the city did not provide any information requested in the grant’s preservation section and safety section and only one document in the grant’s congestion section.

Hoehn said that in the safety section of the city’s grant application, “It lists the year 2000, 13 accidents (on Green Park Road). The year 2001, 11 accidents. The year 2002, 16 accidents. And Judy, I merely asked you to see the accident reports for a simple reason. I wanted to see what the conditions were. What road conditions were, what time of day it was, if the guy was drunk, if the sun was in their eyes, blah, blah, blah. That’s what an accident police report covers. I find out, and I may be wrong, this grant is sent in and the city doesn’t have any of these accident reports on file. Not only are they not attached, they’re not on file here.

“Nobody knows where they’re at. I don’t think they’re all accidents. In fact, in my best judgment, and this is just judgment, I think two-thirds of them probably weren’t accidents. I hope I’m wrong.”

Mayor Steve Armstrong later said the accident reports were not required when the city submitted the application.

“At the time East-West Gateway and I guess MoDOT reviewed it, we didn’t need that specific information,” Armstrong said. “Again, on those reports, out of the total of accidents, there was not actually a report written on every single one. Only a certain percent. And I guess in my speaking with Tom, when the application was reviewed originally, that information was not necessary. Now if it’s deemed necessary by somebody at East-West Gateway, we’ll obtain that information for them if additional clarification is required. Again, there’s not necessarily a report on every one. The police did not write a report on every incident.”

While he believes the proposed design would be better than Green Park Road’s current condition, Hoehn said he also believes the city could have obtained more grant funding for the project if it had properly submitted its application.

“This one, quite frankly, really stuns me,” Hoehn said. “I asked Terry: ‘Could the city have asked for more (money)?’ You know what his answer was? ‘Yes.’ That doesn’t mean you would have got it, but you could have asked for it. And then I think this road could have been done properly. I think the way the road stands right now, I think they’ve done a marvelous job with the curbs, with the control of stormwater, with the widening of two feet in each lane. I think that’s all wonderful. I think it’s all inadequate, too. And I go back to my original statement — you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

“I think they (East-West Gateway) have some serious issues themselves. I don’t know how they could let this process down there and not have documentation that they actually asked for. And it ain’t in their file. That’s why I went down there Friday (Oct. 27). I hoped that it would be in their file, and it wasn’t in their file. And I want to see the road. I want to see the road done right.

“I think this is commendable. I don’t think it’s enough. And now you’ve got so much money in your poke to deal with. You can do one or two things. You can relook at this and do it right or you can compromise. Please don’t compromise.”