Plans to include alleys in the North Broadway Avenue reconstruction project were nixed Monday.
“The cost of alley reconstructions are 100 percent paid for by adjacent property owners,” Rochester City Council Member Michael Wojcik said Monday night. “In this particular case, it’s clear the adjacent property owners do not want it, so I don’t think we need to go down the road of considering alleys, because it’s just not going to happen.”
With approximately 80 objections to the $3.1 million in property assessments, Wojcik said it appears clear that property owners aren’t willing to pay the cost, which accounts for $628,000 of the planned $19.2 million project.
Removing the alleys puts a hold on the project, City Engineer Dillon Dombrovski said, noting other portions of the plans will need to be altered.
With the change, the council also effectively put a planned public hearing on hold until new assessments can be determined.
The council directed city staff to work with Broadway Avenue property owners between Civic Center Drive and the bridge near Silver Lake Park to determine a plan for assessments that could move forward.
“If we can work this out and get the city to have an assessment that makes more sense, I’m for that,” said Council Member Shaun Palmer, who represents the ward that includes the project.
Palmer encouraged property owners to challenge their assessments, noting he thought they would be a burden on business owners.
“We can only do what is a fair value,” he said.
At the same time, other council members voiced apprehension regarding other funding options.
The initial proposal called for using $9.2 million from state funds dedicated for Broadway Avenue projects, $4.4 million in Destination Medical Center funding and $2.1 million in sewer and water utility funds.
Any additional funds could come from the dedicated Broadway funds, known as turnback funds, which includes $19,6 million to cover work from 37th Street Northeast to Highway 52 at the south end of Broadway.
“That turnback fund, I believe, has six more segments it needs to cover,” Council Member Nick Campion. “We have to make sure we’re not overspending early and are going to run out.”
Since the other option would be using local tax dollars, Council Member Patrick Keane suggested the answer may be to scale back the project if property owners continue to oppose the assessments.
“I don’t see any way we can’t go back and reassess what the project is,” he said. “There are no other magical buckets where we’re going to get the money from.”
Wojcik said that shouldn’t be needed, but suggested bids for the projects could include options for scaling back landscaping, public art and other amenities, which would add value to neighboring properties, but largely is paid for with public funds.
With the alley work being removed, project assessments are primarily related to sidewalk and street reconstruction.
Dombrovski said the change will also alter the start of the construction schedule, but he hopes the main work on Broadway can still be done next year.
In other city business, the council:
• Scheduled a May 20 hearing for assessments on a sidewalk project in the Wood Lake Park Subdivision, which would add sidewalks along portions of 35th Street Southeast and Woodlake Drive Southeast.
• Approved the council’s Rules of Procedure and Code of Conduct.
• Initiated the process to revise the city’s zoning map to include new Transit Oriented Development and Residential 2x zones, which target new development options near key transit corridors heading into the downtown.