An agreement to replace just over a half mile of Simmon Drive appears to be elusive for the Town and Village of Osceola.
Specifications and cost of the project, which carries an estimated price of $581,373.69, were the topics of a half hour discussion between Village of Osceola Administrator Ben Krumenauer and the town board.
Krumenauer made his second appearance in front of the board October 4 to advocate for the project, recipient of a $296,587.50 Local Roads Improvement Program (LRIP) grant. The grant will fund up to 50% of the project. The village will pay 67.24% of the remainder, the town 32.76%.
A follow up meeting was held with members of the village and town boards to see what could be done to reach an agreement on getting the project done.
Town Supervisor Neil Gustafson, commenting on the differences, summed up the objection of the board with a question.
“How do I explain to my constituents that this year, we paved 4,000 feet of road and paid 100% of it for $108,000 and 32% of a 2,900-foot road is $93,000? How do we justify that to all of our residents because you don’t like how we build our roads?” he said.
The town paves roads with three inches of blacktop, the Simmon Drive and Village of Osceola projects use four inches of asphalt.
“What the village’s standards for the road size, dimesions, thickness and everything is simply different than the town’s,” Krumenauer said. “Town roads are thinner, which allows them to go a little bit longer. The village roads are thicker and have a little bit longer lifespan. The village has a little bit wider roads, the town has a little bit narrower roads,” he added.
“We found that in our area, a little bit wider roads tend to have secondary benefits such as traffic control, congestion, pedestrian and bicycle movement. Ensuring that dump trucks, mail carriers, garbage trucks don’t just ride the shoulder and crush it. We talked about the breakaway of edges. A wider road can prevent that, same as the thickness,” Krumenauer said.
Krumenauer told the board they looked at alternatives to blend the specifications of the two entities.
“The village looked at initially offering a 24-foot-wide road, 12-foot-wide drive lanes and an additional six feet of paved shoulders to allow for the protection of the shoulders and recognize that we have individuals who like to walk and bicycle on the road, as well as deliveries and garbage trucks,” Krumenauer said.
“The Village Board and Public Works committee looked at it and provided guidance to narrow it down to a 3-foot paved, 3-foot gravel shoulder, significantly reducing the cost. Now not substantially to the point where this is a free project, but thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation still offering us a nearly $300,000 grant on this project, we were able to knock off the project cost nearly $27,000 of the cost, which is pretty significant dollars for everybody here,” Krumenauer said.
Town Supervisor Jo Everson said “I rely on people who know best: Tony, whoever takes Tony’s place and our public works guy. But as somebody who sits back and looks at roads, I know there are some roads in our town that are in just as bad shape as Simmon Drive is. I know that our 5-year road outlook includes some of those roads. I understand that those documents are fluid.
“But I will stand behind Neil to say how do we tell the public that we’re not going to do this road that’s been on our road plan because the Village sought a grant to do a road that they don’t even own — more power to you, good that you did it — but how do we justify that happening when we know there are roads in our town that are more travelled than Simmon Drive? How do we justify that?” Everson said.
“Secondly, Neil just brought up about the road that we did for Oak Drive. My God, you don’t get much heavier traffic than Oak Drive right now. Anything that comes out of Simmon Drive to the village businesses will not outweigh what traffic that goes in on Oak Drive. So, I don’t see anything that you are saying that’s going to give us leverage to introduce it to our constituents that this is a better project than the roads that we already have on our plans that have not been addressed. Constituents, not even gently sometimes complain that it’s not getting fixed in what they want to be a timely manner,” Everson said.
“I can see $27,000 being a huge savings on a $200,000 project, but on a $600,000 project, it’s kind of a drop in the bucket,” Gustafson said. “2024 was drop dead deadline to get it done to avoid losing the grant, but you could easily move it to 2023 if need be. But the only thing that would do for the Town of Osceola if we had $30,000 to put away this year, we could put it away this year, next year and 2023 instead of $90,000 all at once. That’s not saying it’s a justified cost.”
Krumenauer replied the village is willing to look at delaying the project. “I can’t speak for why this town and this board was not communicated in the past. I’m not even going to go there. Suffice it to say the village has tried for nearly two years to have the communication stream going. If it takes delaying the project, the village would be willing to look into that, without any doubt,” he said.
“There is still a timeline for when it can be done, we can’t go too late as we have to have all of the deliverables met for the DOT. The village is willing for it to be delayed a year. The village is willing to pay the entire cost and get the town’s portion in one payment instead of multiples. We are willing to eat any administrative costs of the grant. I’m even willing for our joint legal counsel to take on the burden and have the village take over what little dollars it will take to get the MOU done between us. We’re willing to do that because we find the value in it,” he said.
Krumenauer asked the board to give an answer as soon as possible because the village is budgeting as well.