Tom Black occasionally hosts what he calls the Aberdeen City Council Observer on Facebook. He’s working through a series of questions with incumbent SE district candidate Laure Swanson and her challenger (me!). Black published personal introductions from Swanson and from me last Friday. Here are our responses to Black’s first policy question, “Name one thing that you believe the city is doing wrong right now that can be changed or improved in 2016.”
Swanson: One thing I would like to see done differently would be to operate the enterprise funds on a fee for service basis. We are now using the capital improvement fund, which in turn takes away from our street funds.
Water rates are not keeping up with cost of service. We are taking money from the Special Sales Tax to pay for water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer. On top of that, we are taking funds out of SST to pay for the debt instrument required for the intake work at the treatment plant and the Kline Street project. As well as other road projects.
Heidelberger: “One thing the city is doing wrong?” Replace “wrong” with “not enough,” and we may describe what the city is doing in terms of transportation.
We have streets like Goodrich and cross streets between my place and Ken’s that look (and ride!) as if they’ve been bombed. We need to review our road funding and maintenance schedule to make sure every neighborhood’s roads are kept in good shape. We need to make sure we aren’t overstretching to build new streets out to new development and the expense of existing neighborhood streets.
We have numerous streets with no accommodation for pedestrians. 6th Avenue/Highway 12 east offers no sidewalk for folks on foot to access the many businesses and services there. 6th Ave from Lawson to Roosevelt (the portion of 12 with the highest traffic count in the city) offers no controlled crosswalks, meaning folks in my neighborhood who want to walk to K-Mart, Little Caesar’s, Wendy’s, or CorTrust Bank must either walk far out of their way or run for their lives through a gap in traffic. (The absence of traffic lights along that stretch also makes driving into Ken’s difficult, if not dangerous.) The same is true on Melgaard Ave, where folks on foot hoping to cross during the morning and afternoon school rushes had better pray for wings. Numerous side streets have intermittent sidewalks, creating the unsafe situation of conscientious walkers stepping in and out of the street, or no sidewalks at all. Within city limits, citizens should be able to reach any location on foot as safely as they can by car. Sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian controls can provide that safety.
We have great bike trails, especially the off-street trails in the southeast (along the Mog) and the northeast (from Browne to Baird). The city should improve the street crossings for safety (think bike/foot overpass over Highway 12… or a tunnel?), extend the Mog trail south past the community gardens, and look for a way to join those two paths I mentioned to create a contiguous off-street corridor from one end of the city to the other.
We have numerous traffic flow problems throughout Aberdeen. Two of the worst:
—Too many trucks (double trailers, wind turbine blades!) run through town on Highway 12. Aberdeen needs to revisit the Highway 12 bypass idea and get the state to spend some of the dollars from its new gas tax on easing traffic flow around Aberdeen.
—Flow out of the Target/Dakota Event Center area on Lamont is a zoo. Engineers need to review traffic counts and traffic light timing and consider adding a light along 12 between Target and Walmart.
Top-notch transportation is essential for safety and commerce. Money’s always tight, but we can’t afford to have unsafe conditions for drivers, cyclists, and walkers [Aberdeen City Council Observer, 2015.05.12].
Yes, I went long (there are a lot of potholes to fill!). Other than that, what do you think? We’re both talking basic city infrastructure; are we on the right track?