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Street compromise approved in 6-1 vote

State grants accepted

September 25, 2012
By BILL SHEA ( , Messenger News

The Fort Dodge City Council voted 6-1 Monday to accept $711,600 in state money in a move that secures funding for the downtown street realignment and upholds an agreement brokered last week by Mayor Matt Bemrich.

However, councilmen Dean Hill, Robert ''Barney'' Patterson and Don Wilson said they were voting to accept the money only so that future council members could have it available if they chose to complete the street realignment.

''I'm still not totally sold on this, but I feel it's in the best interest of the city to secure this money,'' Patterson said.

Article Photos

FORT?DODGE CITY Council members Don Wilson, left, Dave Flattery and Robert “Barney” Patterson discuss a proposal to accept $711,600 in state grant money for the proposed crosstown connector. The council voted 6-1 to accept the funds.

Last week, he and Bemrich reached a deal in which Patterson would vote for the state grants if the mayor declined to veto the reconstruction of part of Sixth Avenue Northwest.

Councilmen Kim Alstott, Dave Flattery, Andy Fritz, Hill, Patterson and Wilson voted yes. Councilman Mark Taylor voted no.

Taylor, who opposes the street realignment, said the state money was the subject of ''political brinksmanship'' over the past week.

''I cannot promulgate this crosstown connector any further,'' he said.

Wilson said that one paragraph of the resolution the council voted on to accept the money was changed before the meeting.

The original version released last week states ''Whereas the city of Fort Dodge desires to begin implementation of the crosstown connector.''

The version approved Monday states ''Whereas the city of Fort Dodge desires to secure funding for the project known as the crosstown connector for the city's fiscal year 2014 capital improvement plan.''

Wilson didn't say who changed that paragraph or why, but added that he's glad it was done.

He and other opponents of the street realignment reached a compromise with its supporters earlier this year in which improvements to First Avenue South on the city's east side will be done next year, followed by the downtown work in 2014. That deal establishes the street realignment as a major issue in the 2013 election for mayor and City Council.

Taylor said the 2013 election will essentially be a referendum on the street realignment.

The realignment is a major element of the crosstown connector project which would turn First Avenue South into a two-way street for its entire length.

The project would join First Avenue South and Second Avenue South with a new curving section of road between Fifth and Sixth streets. After that link was created First Avenue South would be converted to two-way traffic downtown. Part of Second Avenue South east of the realignment would be removed to create space for future development.

To ensure there were enough votes to accept the state grants, Bemrich agreed not to veto the reconstruction of Sixth Avenue Northwest between Second and Third streets northwest, a project that will cost $304,158.50.

The state money consists of two grants. They are a $400,000 Urban-State Traffic Engineering Program Project Grant and a $311,600 Primary Road Project Grant.



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