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City approves 27th restriping


Hays city commissioners took action Thursday night on two street issues that have come before them a number of times in the last two decades, approving both the Bike Hays Master plan and the restriping of a portion of 27th Street to a three-lane configuration.

Restriping of 27th Street from Plum to Hall streets from a two-lane to three-lane configuration met with resistance from residents of the area during the last two city commission work sessions.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to authorize removal of on-street parking and restriping of 27th Street. Mayor Troy Hickman voted against the measure.

Although loss of parking was a concern for some residents of the area, several residents attending Thursday's meeting cited a fear pedestrians on sidewalks and youngsters playing in yards in the area would be less safe should the city move forward with the restriping.

"A vehicle can be repaired or replaced if it's damaged," said Donna Hansen, 27th Street homeowner. "But a pedestrian does not have that luxury.

"A person's life can't be replaced, and many injuries are lifelong."

Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said a clear precedent for creating the turning lane had been evidenced by changes that have been made to Hall, Eighth and 22nd streets.

"In every instance, as the Kansas Department of Transportation told us, they were right," he said. "When you have driveways and streets, people want to turn on them (and) that creates conflicts."

Results of a 2004 traffic study, which recommended the restriping, as well as the input of city staff and his own personal observations of 27th Street traffic patterns played a role, Schwaller said, in his decision to vote for the restriping.

"I think it's time to act," he said. "And I apologize to the homeowners very much."

Since the time when the area in question was developed more than 60 years ago, Hays has changed, said Commissioner Ron Mellick.

"In the wildest dreams of the commission 60 years ago, they never expected Hays to grow like it did," Mellick said. "This is something that has evolved over 60 years."

Another street issue familiar to commissioners has been residents' requests through the years for a citywide bike plan. During Thursday's meeting, commissioners unanimously approved the first phase of the Bike Hays Master Plan.

Identified as a goal in the city's 1996 comprehensive plan, Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno said the idea of a city bike system had been a recurring theme.

In 2007, an $11 million Hike and Bike Master Plan was developed.

"Shortly thereafter, the recession hit and funding dried up," Briseno told commissioners. "So the plan was shelved due to cost at that point in time."

Phase one of the bike plan approved by commissioners Thursday is estimated to cost $252,000 and will allow users access to destinations including commercial districts, recreational facilities, museums and neighborhoods. Funds are available for phase one of the plan through 2013 special parks funds.

Commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Kent Steward dissenting, to approve a resolution applying for state transportation enhancement program funds as part of the Bike Hays Master Plan's second phase and authorized the use of $100,000 from the stormwater budget as a match for the Big Creek levee cap.

Preliminary data from the Big Creek assessment shows a need for a concrete cap to secure the levee. A portion of the levee is used by residents as a natural walking trail. City staff requested $100,000 of stormwater funds be used as a match to attain offsetting funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

In other business, commissioners:

* Tabled a decision to support Ellis County's request for legislation that would allow the county to keep all sales tax proceeds if a sales tax is approved to build a joint EMS/Rural Fire facility. Commissioners instructed City Manager Toby Dougherty to look into establishing an interlocal agreement with the county as an alternative to the legislation.

* Authorized Dougherty to enter into an agreement with Darrell Dreher for construction of sanitary sewer and street improvements to serve the lots along Wheatland Avenue.

* Authorized an agreement with Kaw Valley Engineering for engineering services for the design of waterline upgrades and replacements at a cost of $46,904.