Here are the major developments we discussed at the August meeting of the Bennington City Council:
156th Street: While the pace of this project has greatly increased, it still remains way behind the original schedule. I know this has been especially frustrating for parents who pick up and drop off students at Bennington Elementary. Our city engineer has worked with the state and the contractor to publish an updated schedule, available online here. Two upcoming goals:
- Re-open Bennington Road west of 156th Street by August 19.
- Re-open 156th Street from the bridge to Warehouse Street by August 28.
Parkland purchase approved: The Council officially and unanimously approved the purchase of 30 acres of land south of Bennington Road at Johns-Bohn Park. We also accepted the donation of an additional 20 acres from Nancy Neumeyer and her family. The combined 50 acres will be developed into youth sports fields, a community gathering space, and potentially an indoor facility as well.
Led by the Bennington Community Foundation, a committee has formed to brainstorm potential amenities, create an initial concept, and lay the groundwork for fundraising.
If you have ideas about what kind of park features Bennington needs -- a splash pad or pool, outdoor stage, ice rink, field house, walking or biking trails -- please let me know. At this point, everything is up for consideration.
City budget: The Council started the budgeting process for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1, by reviewing a draft budget compiled by the mayor and the city's department heads. While we don't have a clear picture of revenue at this early stage, my sense is that the budget is in good shape even with the addition of a police officer, which the mayor has proposed. This growth in the police department would enable nearly round-the-clock coverage, rather than relying on the Douglas County Sheriff's Department at certain times. As it stands, the budget includes a slight decrease in the city's share of the property tax rate, even as overall revenue increases from new home construction and increased valuations.
I have proposed adding funding to the budget for the speed table on N. Molley Street (likely $9,000). I have also proposed adding money that would support sharing in the cost of a sidewalk on N. Molley, completing a safe pedestrian connection to the elementary school from the new Prairie Hollow development. I think the speed table will be possible. The sidewalk will require support from both my fellow Council members and a majority vote of the homeowners on N. Molley.
There will be several more meetings about the budget, as well as a public hearing. I will keep you posted.
On a lighter note: The Council approved a special liquor permit for JDUB's to host an outdoor beer garden and turtle races August 29. So get ready for some low-speed action!
The full agenda, minutes, and supporting documents are all posted here.