Northern Heights construction plans approved

GTNS photo by David Hotle

On Monday, the Riverside City Council accepted the plans and specifications for its Tupelo Boulevard project.
GTNS photo by David Hotle On Monday, the Riverside City Council accepted the plans and specifications for its Tupelo Boulevard project.

RIVERSIDE — When the city should get involved with helping residents during a city project was discussed Monday evening.

During the regular Riverside City Council meeting, resident Gary Albernet asked if the city could make the slope of Tupelo Boulevard, which is being redone as part of the Northern Heights project, the same as the slope on Ella Street for ease of mowing. He explained in mowing the area now he has extra weight on his garden tractor to keep from tipping. He asked for less of a slope even if it went on his property. He addressed the council during an action item on the agenda rather than during a public hearing for the Tupelo Boulevard street project. The council had already voted to accept plan specifications, form a contract and get cost estimates for the project.

Scott Pottorff of MMS Consultants said the road passing Albernet’s residence is not steeper than the existing grade. Pottorff believes the grade will actually be less.

The situation had become a non-issue, but the council decided it was a good time to determine how much the city should become involved in projects on private property in the future.

“I’ve heard some complaints that people get treated differently on different properties and I want to make sure we are not going above and beyond on one and then going back on another,” Mayor Allen Schneider said.

Council member Tom Sexton said he didn’t believe the city should absorb changes to private property if it doesn’t benefit the city’s project. He said if something is just a beautification of landscape it should be the responsibility of the property owner.

Council member Edgar McGuire asked if there could be incidents where the city could pay for half of a project if it would make the whole area look better.

“As long as it is helping both parties we can split the bill,” he said. “I can see where we can get carried away too. It has to be beneficial for both parties. If it is not beneficial to the city we are not responsible.”

He commented each project is different and he didn’t know if a blanket rule could be applied.

Council member Jeanine Redlinger said the decision needs to be based on the engineer’s recommendation.

At the end of the discussion, Schneider said the issue is something the council needs to keep in mind as it moves forward with other projects.

The city is working to create 14 lots with infrastructure so developer Apex Construction of Iowa City will be able to construct houses on the lots to offer for sale. If the first phase goes well, future expansions of the project can bring up to 70 lots to the area. The city has allocated $450,000 for expenses for the first phase of the project.