Commercial Street restoration project gets go ahead – meeting notes Jan. 21, 2020

 In Featured News, General News, News

City commissioners approved the Commercial Street restoration grant agreement, tweaked policies at Oak Hill Cemetery and authorized the use of asphalt pavement over the partial brick streets in the 800 and 900 blocks of Parallel Street during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Meeting on Tuesday because of the MLK Jr. holiday on Monday, the commissioners approved the highly anticipated restoration project for the 500 and 600 blocks of Commercial Street by a 3-1 vote. Commissioner J. David Farris was the lone dissenting vote, while Commissioner Lisa Moody was absent due to a work conflict.

The project will begin design immediately, but construction on the project is anticipated to be pushed until January of 2021 – at the suggestion of many stakeholders. Beginning construction in 12 months – rather than trying to fast-track the project – will allow for a thorough design process, will let city commissioners and staff work the project into the 2021 budget process, will allow business owners to plan for any necessary façade work, and will ensure that the 2020 holiday shopping season is uninterrupted by construction issues.

Tuesday’s action accepted the KDOT special funding grant that covers about $1.45 million of the expected $2 million project, which essentially commits the City to seeing through the project.

After design of the project, there will still be a bidding process for the construction contract that has yet to take place. Commissioners will have to approve the construction contract before work can begin.

Commissioners also voted 4-0 to adopt new cemetery procedures regarding dangerous head stones at Oak Hill. With the worry that visitors and maintenance staff could be at risk of falling head stones – the troublesome headstones average more than 100 years in age – commissioners will allow staff to remove the liability concerns and replace them with small signage to keep demarcation of the gravesites. The concern is that the leaning and unstable head stones weigh many hundreds – and in some case over 1,000 – pounds and could cause catastrophic or even fatal injury if they were to topple over onto a person working or playing in or around them.

Commissioners also approved the pavement using asphalt of the 800-900 blocks of Parallel Street. The streets are currently majority brick, but with a number of concrete patches already covering a large percentage of each block.

Other action Tuesday included adoption of the City of Atchison’s 2020 Legislative Policy, appointment of Ryan Pickman and Jerel Rawls to serve terms on the Park and Recreation Board, the approval of the purchasing of three police vehicles as part of the regular replacement schedule, approval of an updated Airport Capital Improvement Plan, and adoption of updated building codes. The codes updated included International Building Code, National Electrical Code, Uniform Mechanical Code, Uniform Plumbing Code – with some amendments that were more community friendly. Each of those items passed with 4-0 votes.

On consent agenda, commissioners also unanimously approved a new permit fee schedule for the 400 block of Commercial Street, an airport museum lease and the first 2020 payment to Atchison County for Solid Waste and Joint Communications.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.