Here are the main topics of discussion from the October meeting of the Bennington City Council. (The full minutes are posted here.):
156th Street update: As you have surely seen, 156th Street to the south is now open to local traffic via the detour on Molley and Warehouse streets. Meanwhile, Bennington Road is closed at the intersection of 156th Street. Over the school break, crews buried new storm sewer under the entrance to Bennington Elementary.
The city's engineer has continued to play an expanded role in coordinating the project and keeping things moving. While the mayor and the Council see these responsibilities as rightly belonging to the state, we also know that somebody's got to do them. Even with the city engineer's involvement, it has been difficult to provide a schedule for the project that remains accurate for more than a few days. If you need to know the latest status of the affected roads, I recommend using these sources:
- See the "Recent Notices" on the main page of the City of Bennington website.
- Subscribe to updates to get e-mails or text messages when major announcements, such as road closures, are posted.
- Join the Facebook group managed by the state's contractor, K2 Construction.
- For families with students, you should also receive notices from your schools when changes occur that affect drop-off or pick-up.
Headaches and delays aside, the project will result in a safer, better-looking, and long-lasting main corridor for Bennington, all through a cost-sharing arrangement that our small town can afford. In the meantime, I'd ask for your patience, and I will do what I can to keep you informed.
CW Haden Drive: The city engineer presented a couple options for relieving the congestion caused by trash trucks, construction vehicles, and other peak-hour traffic along CW Haden Drive in front of Cubby's and the neighboring businesses. We asked the engineer to proceed with the design phase for adding a substantial parking lane on the north side of the road. This would keep parked trucks to the outside of the curve, providing better visibility, and it would pave over the giant potholes that have formed along that road.
Sewer rates: Bennington sewer rates next year are likely to increase 4% to 6%, depending on usage at individual homes and businesses. This increase is similar to last year's and keeps pace with the long-term projection established four years ago. This rate is mostly driven by MUD, but it also supports a reserve fund that will enable the city to complete major sewer repairs when needed. Next year, the city engineer will prepare a new long-term projection, helping us determine whether the rates and the reserve fund are still at the right level.
Other items: Also at this month's meeting:
- Police Chief Drew Hilscher has not yet found the right candidate for the open junior officer position. Interviews are ongoing. Chief Hilscher has welcomed a local community member onto the panel, bringing a resident's perspective to the process.
- The Nebraska State Patrol recently assisted Bennington's Police Department in enforcing speed limits on Highway 36. Their presence was a reminder to slow down in the detour zone and to watch for extra traffic turning left from the westbound lane onto 168th Street.
- After polling residents in the area, the mayor decided not to seek replacing the speed bump on N. 2nd Street with a longer speed table. While tables are generally easier on cars, the consensus was that the current speed bump is doing its job. On N. Molley street, the city has secured a reasonable bid to install a speed table in the middle of the flat, straight section of road that now connects to the new Prairie Hollow subdivision.
- The Council gave approval for the Bennington Jaycees to host its "Trunk or Treat" Halloween event downtown on the afternoon of Saturday, October 31. A somewhat modified form of trick-or-treating will allow kids to parade around downtown in their costumes and pick up treats from tables.
As always, please let me know if you have ideas, questions, or concerns about the topics above or any other issue. Thanks!