Alley maintenance puts residents in slush

Staff writer

Neighbors from properties along Washington and Lincoln Streets near Grand Street in Hillsboro attended the city council meeting Tuesday to express concerns about the condition of their alley.

“There are about five residences that use the south 100 block alley to get in and out of their garages and it is just a mess,” said Joan Jost who lives at 108 S. Washington with her husband, Jerry Jost. “We are requesting that the city maintain this alley for us. It is in terrible shape with potholes that are 12 inches deep in some places. And the whole thing needs rock.”

Jost said alley access became a critical issue recently when city snowplows cleared the street in front of their condominium and left a large ridge that prevented normal front side parking.

“I had visitors come and there was nowhere for them to park,” Jost said. “People could not park in front of our house and they were afraid of getting stuck in back. It should be the city’s job to keep this open for us.”

Jost’s next-door neighbor Shirley McMinn said she did not think it fair she had to pay a private contractor to come in and clear her alley just so she could get in and out of her home.

“I don’t see everyone else having to pay for snow removal,” she said.

Jost added that it should be the city’s job to maintain alleys, just as they do all other access streets for citizens in city limits.

“Our mail is delivered to the alley by federal truck, so it is more than just a residential concern,” Jost said. “There are many vehicles that need to get in and out of there and we would appreciate help keeping the area maintained.”

Council member Marlene Fast asked how many garages in the city open into alleyways instead of front streets, adding that if the city were to start maintaining one alley they would have to do them all.

“Typically, building designs from the 1920s and 1940s was to put garages open to the alleys,” City Administrator Larry Paine said. “I would guess at least one third of homes in our town have primary or secondary garage drives into the alley.”

Neighbors from the same area also voiced concerns over Fourth of July activities from the previous year to council members.

“We have one neighbor who puts on a show for several days during the Fourth of July holiday,” Jost said. “The problem is that he does not clean up any of his trash, and he makes a big mess.”

Jost said paper parachutes hung on neighborhood trees for months, and pieces of firework trash littered yards, rooftops, and clogged up rain gutters.

“There was trash everywhere,” Jost said. “Don’t we have a city ordinance about shooting fireworks off in residential neighborhoods without permission? I picked up half a five gallon bucket of trash just in my driveway alone. This really is a concern in our neighborhood.”

Fast said, as a nearby neighbor, she was one who enjoyed the fireworks displays from the parking lot behind the dental office along Washington Street.

“It would be a much better idea to encourage him to move to a central location,” Fast said. “He really likes to put on a big display.”

Council member Bob Watson said it was just common courtesy for individuals to clean up messes after July 4.

“Leaving stuff on the street is littering,” he said. “Everyone needs to clean up their own mess.”

Jost said it likely would take a lot of work to clean up the mess left in their neighborhood.

“This man shoots off more than sparklers and black cats,” she said. “He goes into Missouri and buys stuff that I think is even illegal to shoot here in Kansas.”

Mayor Delores Dalke thanked the group of eight to ten citizens for attending the meeting and expressing their concerns.

“We will think about these issues and talk about them,” Dalke said. “There are a lot of alleys to consider and I am not sure how these will all get cleaned, but it is certainly something we need to consider.”

In other business:

  • Council members approved an updated water conservation plan and an ordinance that included the elimination of well water usage.
  • Paine presented a resolution for council approval that would allow Wichita developer Mark Cox to use tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation to bring three, four-plex housing units to Hillsboro, designed specifically to meet low or moderate income housing needs. The three-bedroom units, called Vintage Apartments, will be located at Third and Lincoln streets.
  • Council members discussed sanitation truck expense and considered future options that included truck replacement, continued repair costs, or moving toward hiring a private sector to conduct trash removal. The group discussed risk factors, privatized availability, and future recycling pickup needs as part of the sanitation work session.

 

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