Paxton road repairs prioritized

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


PAXTON — Members of the Paxton City Council’s public works committee were given updates about the public works department’s future projects during a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Public Works Director Mark LeClair told committee members that one priority was road work in the southeast corner of the city, in particular Fall Street and Summer Street.

Summer Street — a main thoroughfare by Accolade Healthcare, Glen Cemetery and Clara Peterson Elementary School — is narrow and needs to be resurfaced, LeClair said.

City Clerk Gwen Smith said the relocation of the city’s fireworks display to Bixby Park last year increased complaints about the roadway.

“I think with the fireworks being down there, it really kind of highlighted how narrow that road is with all the traffic on it,” Smith said. “It was pretty scary if you were trying to drive and walk down that road.”

Additional improvements, however, would need to be made to repair the road, LeClair said.

“The first thing the engineer wanted to do is narrow the (electric) poles,” LeClair said.

Despite the other measures involved, LeClair highlighted the fact that large vehicles cannot pass through the area on Summer Street.

“If you drive two trucks side-by-side, you’ll realize how narrow it is,” LeClair said.

LeClair said more attention is also needed on a three-block section in the southeast corner of town that includes Prospect Street, Bogardus Street and a small section of Fall Street that connects the two. LeClair said the oil-and-chip surface on those streets has worn away, exposing potholes that can fill with water during rainfall.

“Bogardus is getting a little low,” LeClair said. “All you need to do is see the puddles that build up after it rains. The road is giving out.”

LeClair said several portions of Market Street downtown are also in dire need of repair work. Specifically, LeClair mentioned the section south of Ottawa Road, which he said has been worn down by truck traffic due to the presence of businesses in the area.

“You’ve got Merle Roy with his equipment in and out,” LeClair said. “You’ve got Fox’s with their semis in and out. Right now, that road is ate up.”

LeClair also brought up the portion of Market Street between the Holmes Street bridge and Orleans Street, which includes the downtown area.

“North Market Street has been bad the past two years,” LeClair said. “I’m surprised it hasn’t come apart.”

For the small section of roadway south of Ottawa Road, LeClair said the road could either be paved with concrete or perhaps blacktop.

“It’s a question for our engineer: Do we want to pave it with concrete or get a better base under it and just blacktop it over the top?” LeClair said. “I think that road would be very expensive to do, but it’s up to our engineer. But something needs to be done.”

Mayor Bill Ingold said the double curb on the west side of Market Street through downtown is causing problems, especially during winter. LeClair also brought up the likelihood that any future redevelopment plans for the downtown streetscape could mean the relocation of electric wires.

“I’ve always thought we need to move our downtown electric wires underground for our light poles,” LeClair said. “I’d hate to redo it and then come back in and break it up two years later.”

Alderman H.J. Flesner told LeClair that buying a user curb machine could be beneficial to the public works department and would save its workers time and money.

“Instead of setting all the forms, you could set the pins and do one block at a time and it would take a fourth of the time or less than that,” Flesner said.

LeClair mentioned East Holmes Street as an area in need of attention, as well. East of U.S. 45, Holmes Street runs south of the former Norfolk & Western Railroad line, while it is north of the old line on West Holmes Street and the bridge.

“If you want to turn south onto 45, you’ve got to turn right and then turn left right away, or just turn at an angle,” LeClair said. “It makes sense to pave that straight all the way to Vermilion (Street).”

One problem that the committee brought up was that the one-block section east of U.S. 45 runs in front of three residences, leaving questions that include the city’s right to tear up the road.

“The only bad part about that is when you go plow, what do you to to the street in front of the people. Is that even our ground?” LeClair asked.

Ingold said the railroad’s abandonment in the late 1980s could have reverted to the land’s original owners or the city’s right-of-way.

More pressing, LeClair said, is that the removal of ash trees from city property is complicating the public works department’s time and budget.

“Last year we spent most of our time cutting down trees,” LeClair said. “That’s the sad part. We’ve spent all of our time cutting down trees, and we still have more than 100 to go.”

Committee members asked LeClair if the city was paying for water service installation at Clara Peterson Elementary School for its renovation. LeClair said the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school district was paying for the costs with the city providing the labor. Ingold said the school’s old playground equipment would be donated to the city to be placed at Howard Thomas Park.

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