City to Widen Stretch of Harper Drive, Reroute Truck Traffic

 In Featured News, General News, News

City Commissioners unanimously agreed to widen Harper Drive between 2nd and 3rd streets during Monday’s meeting, with the idea that once it is completed, heavy truck traffic that now utilizes 2nd Street will be diverted onto Harper toward K-7 Highway.

Harper will be widened in conjunction with the construction project taking place along that block for a new dormitory for Benedictine College. Commissioners approved up to $130,000 for the project, along with using the contractor already working on the dorm construction.

Truck traffic going to and from Sedgewick Road north of the city, which becomes 2nd Street inside city limits, has been allowed to follow the street south, into downtown. That truck route will be eliminated south of Harper Drive once the widening of that street is completed, forcing heavy trucks to utilize Harper to K-7.

“We realize this will be a change for the drivers and for those residents along Harper,” Assistant City Manager Joe Warren said. “But there is no perfect solution, and pedestrian safety needs to be a priority.”

Warren said that with the high amount of pedestrian traffic along 2nd Street due to the college, St. Benedict’s Church, and St. Benedict’s Catholic School, and the heavy on-street parking all along the street, pushing truck traffic to K-7 made more sense. The truck route change won’t go into effect until after construction of the street is complete.

In other action Monday, commissioners set show cause hearings for demolitions at 813 Unity St. and 927 Mound St. for Monday, June 20. The house on Unity St. has a sink hole underneath, created by washed away foundation and extensive termite damage. The house on Mound St. was gutted by a fire.

Commissioners also agreed to a contract with Pomeroy Development, LLC for consulting services. Former Assistant City Manager and Interim City Manager Justin Pregont is the owner/operator of Pomeroy and the 4-month contract is to provide economic development and capital project development for the city.

Following the meeting, a Land Bank meeting was held, where a Rehabilitation, Enforcement, Demolition, and Occupation (REDO) property at 923 Santa Fe St. was sold to incoming Benedictine College professor Ken Heyda for rehabilitation. The rehabilitation is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15, 2023, with a claw-back clause in the sales contract that would revert to the city if the project were not completed.

Commissioners also had a workshop to discuss code enforcement following the meeting.

The regular city commission meeting scheduled for May 16 has been canceled due to anticipated commissioner absences. In its place, there will be a special city commission meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, in the commission room.