Ill will about tower hard to pave over

Publisher

Last year’s animosity over a radio tower at the new county jail resurfaced Monday as city and county officials discussed cooperating, probably next year, to rebuild sections of South Fourth Street damaged by construction.

“I really hope things work out a lot better than they did on the last project with that thing sticking up out there — the tower,” County Commissioner Randy Dallke said, gesturing toward the jail.

Commissioner Dan Holub was characteristically unreserved.

“That tower cost us nine grand more than we needed it to because of two or three people,” Holub said.

Turning to City Administrator Doug Kjellin, who had come to the commission to ask how much the county was willing to contribute to street reconstruction, Holub added:

“I’m not forgetting that nine grand. Doug, you cooperated. You did try to help. But you got thrown under the bus. You know that.”

Kjellin, acting on his own authority, last summer signed off on an amendment to an already issued permit so the county could add an overlooked radio tower twice the height originally allowed.

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals overturned Kjellin’s action. Eventually, the city approved what the county contends was a more costly tower, half as tall as what it wanted.

Before the tower dispute, the county had agreed to give the city $62,000 to defray costs of street reconstruction and work the city performed during jail construction.

Of that, $18,000 for various infrastructure changes has been paid, leaving $44,000 remaining. Kjellin’s visit Monday was to determine whether the county remained committed to that amount.

The commission generally was amenable to Kjellin’s request. It agreed to create, at county expense, a new base for the street after city crews excavate the current surface. But commissioners got in a few jabs while retreating from their earlier stance.

“It’s not our responsibility for the street,” Dallke said. “I think we could have patched over our part for $15,000 to $20,000. Maybe $20,000 was damage. Anything above $20,000 is a gift to the City of Marion just to get the job done.”

Dallke then moved to contribute $32,000 — $12,000 less than originally planned — to the proposed $184,000 reconstruction of Fourth and Williams Streets.

Holub asked: “You’re not going to subtract the nine grand?”

Dallke replied: “I already did.”

County crews will provide gravel and will grade and compact the street’s base. As Kjellin later pointed out to the City Council, this will make the county’s actual contribution roughly the same as it would have been before the tower concerns, which he did not relay to the council.

“We have a $3 million building improvement,” Dallke said at the commission meeting. “With that, we expect some good streets and parking for the public.”

Holub and Commissioner Roger Fleming both praised the notion of having city crews handle demolition and county crews handle installation of the base before a concrete contractor lays down the new street.

“That’s cool,” Holub said. “That’s a great way to do it.”

To protect against additional construction damage, no work will begin until after the old jail, across Fourth Street from the new jail, is demolished, perhaps sometime next year.

The city and county will study what else might be done to improve Williams Street, the one-block street just west of Fourth that forms the northern side of the courthouse square.

“You still have a doo-wah to park in for the public,” Dallke said, noting limitations imposed by drainage problems in the area. “I don’t want to put $50,000 into this and have people say they can’t jump off the curb.”

 

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