Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2005

City, board don’t bridge gap

Questions surround extending Bittersweet past new school

September 15, 2005

Lansing's school board and City Council members agreed at a special joint meeting that more legwork would have to be done before the two entities could agree on how to split the costs of extending Bittersweet Road to West Mary Street.

While most board and council members at the meeting Monday agreed on the need for the road - to connect Lansing Middle School with the new elementary school to be built by fall 2007 - they were unable to decide how to pay for it.

John Young, Lansing's director or public works, said extending Bittersweet to West Mary would necessitate a bridge, estimated at $1 million, and a road, estimated at $400,000. His price estimates were for a two-lane road with pedestrian walkways.

Were the road extended, it would be on city and school property and would be adjacent to property owned by Lansing United Methodist Church.

Young said the estimated cost of the road did not include buying a slice of needed property from the church.

Council member Robert Ulin said the cost of asphalt would probably go up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina because of the cost of oil used to make it.

Both entities have been advised the cost of the road could be shared by the school district and city, but members at the meeting could not decide how the cost would be split.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard said the city had already set its priorities for building and maintaining roads for the next 10 years, so he was unsure how to fit in the Bittersweet extension.

He suggested a bond may be necessary to pay for the road but stressed, "We can't commit to anything until we know how much it's going to cost."

In the end, council members directed Young to talk to the church about selling or donating land where the road would run to get a more exact cost of the extension. Council member Kenneth Ketchum suggested City Administrator Mike Smith and Schools Superintendent Randal Bagby "work out the details" of splitting the cost.

In the end, he said, it all comes down to taxpayers.

"We all use public streets, we all use public schools, we all should pay the cost," Ketchum said.

Also at the joint meeting:

¢ Jason Crum, Lansing's director of parks and recreation, showed the school board the plan for the new Lansing Community Park, which will be about 1 mile west of Lansing city limits on 4-H Road. Bernard told the board, "If you need any part of it, we need to know now." Bagby said the district was "always in need of more ball diamonds and soccer fields" and mentioned that if locker rooms were available at the site, it would be a viable location for school sporting events.

¢ Bagby showed City Council members a proposed schedule for construction of the new elementary school and high school auditorium that will be built with $23.6 million in bonds. He said groundbreaking was expected to be next summer.

¢ Assistant Superintendent Donna Hughes updated both groups on the Lansing school district's China exchange program. She said visitors from China would be in town the week of Oct. 3 to see Lansing High School and the town. She asked if the mayor would present a Lansing flag to the delegation. "Whatever you need, just holler. We'll do it," Bernard said.

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