Osceola Village administrator Benjamin Krumenauer spoke to the Osceola town board Aug. 2 regarding a section of Simmon Drive.
The road is located east of downtown Osceola, south of County Road M. It’s splits the border of the town and village, and is jointly owned by both municipalities. The road has been in need of repair for some time.
“In 2019 and 20 we recognized Simmon Drive as one of those continuing issues for the village, and for the town residents around there,” he said. “We heard comments from a lot of village representatives and residents, but also some town residents about how to get ahead of that roadway.”
Due to the deteriorating conditions, in 2020 the village applied for a grant through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) to help fund the reconstruction of the road.
“The last time we did major work on (Simmon Dr.) was 1986,” Krumenauer said. “So we’ve had 35 years of an asphalt roadway with only potholes, patching, chip sealing and minor maintenance — Overall we call that a pretty good day. But now it needs to be replaced.”
The village was awarded the grant through the DOT, which will help offset up to 50 percent of the cost of reconstruction. Since the road is owned jointly, Krumenauer and the village are asking the town to front a portion of the remaining cost.
Per a 2004 agreement, the village takes care of the general maintenance on Simmon Drive such as fixing potholes and plowing snow. However, Krumenauer said that agreement does not apply to major reconstruction,
“With infrastructure such as a road replacement, we’re looking above and beyond what’s typically considered a maintenance patch,” he said. “And that’s why we’re here today. We were lucky enough to be allocated a nice award of almost $300,000 to fund that program, but there is still significant dollars that both the village, and we hope the town, can help recover.”
Early estimates put the total cost of the project at just over $600,000, although Krumenauer noted those are pre-design estimates and may be subject to scope and bidding changes. Only 33 percent of the project area is in the town’s jurisdiction, so the village would like the town to offset 33 percent of the total cost. However, the town would also be eligible for 33 percent of the grant money, to help offset their investment.
“It seems like a lot, but when you start to factor in the nearly $330,000 grant we got, the numbers seem a little bit more palatable,” Krumenauer said. “Not only for the town but for the village.”
The board initially questioned why the town wasn’t made aware of the grant application before the village applied.
“There were some leadership issues (on the town board), so the village thought we would try to work ahead,” Krumenauer said. “We were just trying to help expedite the process.”
Krumenauer had reached out to previous board members regarding the project, but turnover on the board prevented the issue from coming to light with the new members. Sup. Jo Everson said she worries the town is now committed to the project, without actually having discussed it.
“More power to you that you got the grant, but in doing so you actually committed the town to participating in the project for it to even be successful,” Everson said. “And without coming to the town board first.”
Committing to the project could also hamper some of the town’s long-term infrastructure plans, according to Sup. Neil Gustafson.
“The village has to understand too that the Town of Osceola has a wish list of roads to (rebuild) five years out,” he said. “How do we bump one of our roads that’s been sitting for five years on the list for something that just pops up out of nowhere.”
Early design estimates feature increased pavement depth as well as expanded shoulders for the road, which some on the board thought might be a bit much for that section of road.
Road project costs are often given as an average per mile. The $600,000 total price tag for an estimated 2,900 feet of road in the Simmon Dr. project puts the per mile cost at just over $1.1 million.
“We’ve never spent that much on a mile of road, not that I can remember,” Sup. Mike Wallis said. “I understand the effort and the good nature of it, however I think we’re a little ways apart. And for this to be successful, this board has to agree to something we can all afford.”
Krumenauer stressed that the project is in very early stages and that the town board would certainly be given design and cost input going forward, as well as the possibility to review bids for specific portions of the project.
“We’ll 100 percent work with your staff throughout the whole process,” he said. “To make sure both communities are at the table when we’re fine tuning the work.”