Valley Falls officials begin study to develop subdivision
by Clarke Davis
The Valley Falls City Council took a look at a newly redrawn design for the Barnes Subdivision and started the discussion on how to start development in a special meeting held for that purpose Nov. 16.
The first words spoken by Mayor Charles Stutesman were, “I don’t know.”
That pretty much summed up everything as he and the council began to explore how to bring utilities and streets to the area so development can get under way.
Present were Michael Berry and Robert Koopman, engineers with Professional Engineering Consultants, Topeka.
The engineers had visited the location that afternoon and Berry roughed out a quick redesign of the lots on both the east and west portions. The two sides are divided by Frazier Street.
The east portion is being focused on because interest has been shown by two parties to begin building as soon as sufficient infrastructure is in place.
The first thing Berry did was remove all cul-de-sacs and then drew a roadway running east and west that would probably line up more closely with 17th Street. It bumps into a pond on the northeast corner of the property and then curves north and back east to come out on Oak Street.
The main purpose is to run the sewer along the road for gravity feed to the east averting the use of pumping stations. The redrawn map still consists of 13 lots with an additional five along Oak Street. There are 22 lots on the west side.
Getting rid of the cul-de-sacs meant less road construction and the engineers do not recommend these kind of streets because of the difficulty in snow removal and fire protection.
The pond, which is believed to be spring fed and contains a dry hydrant for the fire department, will also be affected somewhat. Berry wants to divert the outflow east under Oak instead of having it run north.
The mayor sees advantages to keeping the pond for ascetic reasons as well as fire protection. Councilman Paul Burns believes there’s a liability problem.
Koopman spoke to serving the area with water from the south tower, the smaller of the two towers but the one that is underserved and will provide the best pressure.
The only action taken by the council was to ask the engineers to proceed with cost estimates to bring water, sewer, and a street to both sections, but singling out the east side.
How to pay for it and who pays for it will be a discussion for a future meeting. The council will decide whether to provide free lots to builders or try to regain some of the cost through the sale of lots. It will also need to decide if the total expense will be borne through special assessments on the lots or a tax on the citizenry.
About a dozen citizens attended the session. Les and Julia Needham, who have expressed interest in building several houses, were present along with Jason Pickerell, a native and Meriden banker, who expressed interest in three lots to establish a family home.
Dan Heinen, a local builder who has invested in numerous properties and vacant lots, said he was interested in how the city was going to finance and make improvements in the infrastructure.
Travis and Lisa Martin and Pat and Julie Sieve attended to express interest in being hooked onto city sewer and wanted it known if new lines were going to be run. These families reside on the east side of south Frazier and are outside the city limits.
Additional special meetings will be held in the coming weeks and the mayor said he wanted to continue to get guidance from the community as the council proceeds.
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