Evart council hears about capital improvement plan

EVART – There's a lot of excitement surrounding the near completion of Evart's capital improvement plan (CIP).

The plan is like a wish list of things the city would like to accomplish over the next six years, City Manager Zack Szakacs told council members during their meeting Monday night.

“Beckett and Raeder finished up our input and are going to try to end it this week and have a final draft of the CIP,” he said. “We'll have a public hearing and then adopt it.”

Szakacs said the plan is a living a living document and addresses items $15,000 or more, and will need approval so it can be included in the city's grant package application for an Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement (ICE) grant, aimed at garnering nearly $2 million in funding to finish road work on Fifth Street all the way to U.S. 10.

“We will be able to make adjustments and changes to the CIP as we go along,” the city manager said. “(Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Wilson) already has purchased the program and will pass it on to us,” he said. “It will be a program in the cloud and we can maintain it moving forward, with your recommendations with the budget session. We'll be able to change it and tweak it.”

During his report to the city council members, Wilson intimated the amount of work city staff put into completing the CIP.

“I'm so excited, and having the leg work that we received and help through Rising Tide, is unbelievable,” he said, adding they were able to estimate street projects as well as prioritize in the years ahead. “There's been so much work done over the last couple of weeks, it's like a ton of bricks off your back to have it complete and know that we can jump in at any time to adjust it as things come up.

“Having a live software package, a truly living document that we can change as needed is huge. It's impressive.”

Szakacs pointed out to council members the work done also depends on them deciding on what they want to put aside for those items listed in the plan.

“This is your city staff on the ground who put this together,” he said. “We still don't know your visions and thoughts, and we can add to it. If you have different projects or different ideas, they can be added. Everyone had input in it. It's been a team effort, not just one person sitting down and doing all the work.”

In other action Monday, Szakacs updated council members about the ongoing land swap plan with Blarney Castle for the property north of its location on U.S. 10. The city manager said he did some research on the property and found the monitoring wells on the property were removed and a local ordinance restricts any future development to include hook up to the city's water and sewer.

Szakacs asked if council wanted him to wait an additional two weeks to wait for a response, but members decided on doing a background of environmental assessment (BEA) on the property.

“We should do a Phase I and set a base line for what it is now and move forward,” Council member John Joyce said.

Mayor Casey Keysor added, "It's an insurance policy for the city to do a BEA."

City Attorney Jim White said if a BEA was done, the city would not be responsible in case something should happen to the property in the future.

Szakacs added Blarney Castle is doing its own environmental assessment of the property as well.

The City Council authorized the city manager to spend up to $5,000 for the assessment to get done.

Council members also approved a resolution for the 2017 poverty guidelines. Council agreed to a $7,500 limit poverty guideline at its Feb. 21 meeting. However, members needed to approve a resolution setting the limit to make it official.

Council members also approved a sewer credit of $119 for 546 N. Hemlock St., due to a leak, Wilson informed members.

The next Evart City Council meeting is set for 7 p.m. on March 20, at city hall.