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Howard board approves assessments for Evergreen, Pinecrest reconstruction

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – Residents unhappy about the road reconstruction project where they live along Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road were on hand last month when the village board voted 6-3 in favor of levying special assessments for the project.

Trustees Craig McAllister, Cathy Hughes and Scott Beyer cast dissenting votes.

Of more than $2 million in project costs, Director of Engineering Mike Kaster said fronting property owners will be responsible for around $556,259, or 27.2 percent of the total.

“The final resolution and assessment schedule was adjusted, based on the recommendation of the board at the April 12 meeting,” he said.

In consideration of property owners facing special assessments sooner than they expected, board members agreed to defer assessment payments for three years without interest and allow the payments to be made over a 20-year period at 1.65 percent interest – a half percent above the village’s borrowing rate.

The reconstruction of portions of Evergreen Avenue and Pinecrest Road was moved up to this year after the board decided during deliberations for the 2021 budget to do the project sooner than previously planned.

The move is intended to take advantage of a drop in interest rates and save money in the long run with the rate to borrow money expected to be lower than the rate of inflation for construction.

The project involves Evergreen Avenue from Pinecrest Road to Rolla Lane and Pinecrest Road from Devroy Lane to Evergreen Avenue being reconstructed from rural roadways with gravel shoulders and ditch drainage to urban roadways with curb and gutter and storm sewer drainage.

The reconstruction includes installing storm sewer and service laterals, a 37-foot wide, curb-and-gutter roadway with 11-foot travel lanes and 7-foot shared parking/bike lanes paving the shoulders, 5-foot sidewalks on both sides of the roads and concrete driveway aprons.

Kaster said the project should be finished in October, weather permitting.

McAllister said the reconstruction project wouldn’t increase the value of the affected properties upon fronting an urbanized roadway.

“If we’re not increasing the value to these people’s properties, how can we assess for the roadway charges?” he said. “That’s where I’m at and opposed to assessing these people for the roadway.”

Village President Burt McIntyre said the standard for charging special assessments wasn’t if it would increase the value of people’s properties.

“Is that a measurement by any means?” he said.

Residents who live along the project area have been on hand for board meetings in recent months expressing their objections.

Affected residents don’t favor sidewalks encroaching on their properties, not being notified of steps in the reconstruction process with mailboxes being moved, and more.

Julie Caelwaerts, who also lives on Evergreen Avenue, said the project timeline “has been extremely compressed and putting a lot of stress on the people who live on those two roads.”

“I’m not real clear on why, at that (April 12) village board meeting – if our info about the mailbox replacement was available because the mailing got done on the 13th – why we weren’t informed at that point,” she said. “We had a week’s notice to know that that was going to happen. Obviously, our mail isn’t always on time. That kind of notification is not acceptable.”

Caelwaerts, who questioned how the project could move forward without signed agreements from the property owners, said she also wasn’t notified about a road closure on April 19 and a neighbor’s tree being removed close to where a vehicle was parked.

“The lack of communication is horrifying,” she said.

Kaster said the road was closed to thru traffic, but not closed to residents.

Given the number of complaints from residents about the lack of communication for the project, board members asked village staff what could be done to improve the notification process.

Trustee John Muraski suggested putting together a report after the project is completed on lessons learned.

“Maybe that’s something we can put in our lessons learned that no matter where it is in our village, if that road is to be closed, the residents that live – you know, within the block, maybe, you know, something like that – can be told,” Hughes said.

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