Gunnison opts to go it alone to fund sidewalks for safer route to school

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Aug. 31, 2017

 

GUNNISON—Gunnison City is following in the footsteps of some other Sanpete cities, despite some complications with funding options, in moving forward with a plan to install sidewalks along main school routes.

Primarily affected as part of the Safe Walk to Schools program will be 500 South leading to Gunnison Valley Elementary.

The project will add a sidewalk along the south side of 500 South from Main Street to 300 East.

At a meeting of the city council on Wednesday, Aug. 23, the council directed state-certified surveyor Chad Hill to begin the process of surveying the construction area for the sidewalk project.

The nearly $65,000 project will be paid for solely with city funds.

The city had originally pursued the Community Impact Board (CIB) funding for the sidewalk project, but Mayor Bruce Blackham reported to the council during a council meeting last month that the CIB was hesitant to fund the project for a few reasons, primarily the fact that the sidewalk would potentially raise the property value of landowners along 500 South, which brought up a discussion over whether the property owners should be asked to contribute.

Councilman Shawn Crane said he had inquired with the county assessor about whether the CIB committee’s concerns were valid. Crane said the assessor told him he had never seen the addition of a sidewalk increase the value of a house.

Councilman Blake Donaldson said he thought the city should sent a letter quoting the county assessor’s opinion to the CIB, whether they end up getting the CIB funding or not.

Donaldson said CIB funding would require the city to provide a portion of the project’s cost no matter what. Because of that requirement, Donaldson said the project would actually be cheaper if the city funded it on its own, due to extra costs required by the CIB funding, such as attorney fees, accountant fees and contingency fees

A city-funded alternative would also remove the possible requirement of requesting contributions from property owners on 500 South.

Councilman Andy Hill told the council he thought the project was especially important because of the high traffic on the street and the high volume of kids. He added that even completing the project halfway would be an improvement from the current state of the street.

Councilmember Jensen agreed that the project should be prioritized, and since it was on city property, he said the city should be wholly responsible for it.

The council ultimately decided to fund the project using a combination of Prop 1 tax monies (which would be about $29,000) and Class B and C road funds, which Crane said were not currently earmarked for any other projects.

After Councilman Hill made a motion to approve the funding strategy, it passed unanimously.

Councilman Jensen said he wanted the city to notify property owners on 500 South in advance of construction, and that construction areas should be marked off well in advance of any work.

At the meeting last week, surveyor Chad Hill gave a short presentation to the council about the importance of regularly utilizing surveyors. He said he had been involved in similar presentations at the local schools to encourage students to consider a career in surveying, which he said was a career that was very important and relevant, especially in municipal governments when arguments about property lines and ownership arise in the city limits.