Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The newly created Streets, Sidewalks and Storm water Advisory Committee met November 3 at the Gardner Senior Center to prioritize sidewalk and road improvements in the city. The infrastructure improvements to the streets and trails will be funded through the half cent city sales tax renewal Gardner residents voted for in September.
Lee Moore, council member and ex-officio member, led the meeting discussion on items to include for prioritization of sidewalk construction and improvement projects. These included: developed areas, the time involvement, ease of installation, road types, school access, connecting to destinations, pedestrian usage levels, public danger, traffic type and housing developments.
“The city’s perspective is to develop out,” Moore said. “We need to prevent islands, because we have them everywhere.”
The committee decided they needed to set amounts for project costs. “There’s a lot of sidewalks,” Bruce Hughes, committee member, said. “Is there a percentage for sidewalk spending or do we need to set one?”
Main categories for sidewalk prioritization were to be narrowed down to 3-4 main categories with sub-categories and determined at a later date with a coded map.
Andy Stevens, committee member, said the committee needed to balance between the risk and the cost. “Do we have money for it,” he said. “And where is the money coming from?”
Sidewalk improvement discussion led to pavement management.
“The staff’s perspective is to limit reconstruction, and only reconstruct one to two small sections at a time,” Moore said.
Adam Boydston, commitee member, had concerns about the amount of trash trucks operating in the city.
“They kill residential streets,” he said. “I see four to five trucks driving down streets a week. Maybe we should have one citywide service or services broken down by wards/quads”.
Moore was concerned it would take someone’s right to choose away. Hughes suggested the choices be limited. The committee chose to discuss the matter in the future.
A majority of the focus for the first major sidewalk and road improvements was on widening 175th and Waverly Streets.
“These roads are very expensive by their nature,” Moore said, “But [we] have hopes to see development out there.”
Moore said they were substandard roads, but that improvements with sidewalks and shoulders would help further development. “We would really like to see community input though.”
Gonzolo Garcia, utilities director, then led a presentation on the 80 page utility assessment report of the city. He said many upgrades were needed to substations, generator controls, gas and fuel regulator valves and the SCADA system. Recommendations to filter the city’s water before chlorine and fluoride were injected was also made to the committee.
“We need to determine the true growth areas in Gardner, so we can decide where to expand,” he said.
Earlier this year ciity council members adopted a resolution creating five advisory committees. The committees will meet monthly offering recommendations to the Gardner City Council. The committees include a streets, sidewalks and stormwater advisory committee,  citizens police advisory committee, an Americans with Disabilities Act advisory committee, a parks and recreation advisory committee and an economic development advisory committee. Not all committees have been fully established.
Proceeds from the half-cent sales tax approved in September are to be used to fund infrastructure improvements to streets and trails. It will sunset in 10 years. The tax replaces a 10-year tax, which funded the debt on Celebration Park and the Gardner Aquatic Center.