Alley dispute draws split vote by Osage City Council

OSAGE CITY — The March 28 Osage City Council meeting included updates on a multi-million dollar wastewater treatment project, but was dominated by discussion related to the proposed opening of an alleyway that runs parallel to Lakin and Holiday streets between Seventh and Eighth streets.

“Lorrain (Davis) approached us with concern about how that alley was used,” said Wes Brown. “It had a restrictive function, you could not drive through with motor vehicles and go out the west end. Lorraine’s request is that the west end of the alley be reopened to motor vehicle traffic.”

“I’m here to follow up with a request to repeal that ordinance and open up the traffic so it can flow either way,” Davis said. “The situation is totally different now.”

The alley had originally been closed because of traffic problems created by a nearby business. The business closed decades ago, and Davis said there’s now a traffic problem created by the closure. She also said the east end of the alley had been badly worn by the city trash truck.

“I can’t understand where there’s a traffic flow problem that’s going past a garage, that’s used for storage,” said Linda Bowen, owner of 706 Holiday. “No one lives there. Basically, what we have, is people come into the business, they either go back the same way, or go out the alley on the east end. I don’t understand why there’s a big problem with traffic flow.”

Rob Rowe, council member, and Brown noted the unusual nature of the blocked alley.

“You don’t have people coming in, drinking, the reason it was closed,” Rowe said. “Is there any other alleys that are blocked in town?”

Fred Hallowell, street supervisor, said there is not.

“It’s a very unique situation,” Brown said. “When we first started looking at it, I expected to see a vacated alleyway. We don’t have another one of them in Osage City. In the few cities that I’ve been involved with, there isn’t a similar situation. Something happened in 1983 that purposed it to happened.”

Council attempted to locate the core cause of the complaint.

“The way this came about was complaints about a trash truck,” said Quintin Robert, mayor. “I only bring it up because opening it isn’t going to fix that problem. If we open it now, we’re going to be back here in a month or two, because we haven’t addressed the problem.”

“If we fix the east end, is that going to solve your complaint?” asked Bruce Schoepflin, council member.

Davis indicated it would not.

“It doesn’t serve the purpose of a unique situation in 1983,” Davis said.

Dale Schwieger, council member, suggested addressing one part of the problem at a time.

“Let’s fix that east end,” Schwieger said. “It’s going to have to be fixed no matter what we do.”

Hallowell said it would cost about $1,400 to repair the east end of the alley.

Rowe said the council reacted to a home owners request to close the alley in 1983, and the council should honor such a request now. Row motioned to repeal Ordinance 1111, seconded by Mike Handily, council member. The council voted 4-4, with Rowe, Handly, Schoepflin and Gail Lohmeyer supporting repealing the ordiance, and Schwieger, Jeanette Swartz, Becky Brewer and Denise Lauber opposed.

The deciding vote went to the mayor.

“I’d vote nay for now,” Robert said. “I’d say for now, let’s fix the east end and see what it does. If that doesn’t help the situation, we’re here every two weeks.”

In other business, the council:

• approved task order No. 3 for the engineering of Phase I of the wastewater collection and lagoon restoration project, at a cost of no more than $889,096. Construction is set to begin in the northeast part of town.

“We should see backhoes digging within the next couple of weeks,” said Waldo Marghaein, project engineer for Burns & McDonnel.

• approved up to $6,000 to support 50 percent of a proposed disc golf course installation in Jones Park. The course, pitched by Erick Punches, will be professionally designed, and built with the help of city staff.

• approved purchase of two Exmark Lazer X series mowers for $13,118 with trade from Schwant Tractor & Service Inc. of Dover.

• heard information regarding efforts to build a 35-room hotel in Osage City had been placed on the city’s web site,

• received information on Osage City’s 26th year participating as a member of Tree City USA, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The Osage County Herald-Chronicle

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