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Judge orders summary judgement in Riverdale’s favor

Judge orders summary judgement in Riverdale’s favor

A ruling was issued on Tuesday by Judge Henry Latham II, in Iowa District Court, concerning the lawsuit filed against the City of Riverdale by individuals and groups representing users of the Mississippi River Trail who were upset by the City Council’s decision to close and lock the gate between the multi-use trail and South Kensington Street in the Havens Acres neighborhood. The ruling denied the Plaintiffs’ request for a Summary Judgement that would have required the City to re-open the gate and allow for the passage of bikes, walkers and runners unabated and, at the same time, granted the City’s request for a Summary Judgement to allow the gate to remain locked and require trail users to remain on the trail as they circumnavigate the neighborhood.

The Plaintiffs’ request the City also pay for other, consequential damages and attorney’s fees were also denied.

“This seems like a reasonable outcome,” said Riverdale’s mayor, Mike Bawden. “And this is the way disputes like this should be worked out – in a court of law rather than in the court of public opinion. The City felt it had a right to act in a way that addressed the needs and concerns of its residents and the plaintiffs in this case felt they had a right to continue riding across City-owned property to make a convenient connection between the two, great multi-use trails in the Iowa Quad Cities.”

“Despite our efforts and offers to work with trail users to develop solutions, they made the decision that taking a more adversarial approach was preferred. I think it’s pretty clear we weren’t anywhere near agreement on how to move forward, so letting this work its way through the courts was probably the best solution.”

It’s not over … yet

The Mayor reminded people that even though the City’s position prevailed at this time, that does not necessarily mean the litigation is over.

“For some folks, this decision may seem like the end of the road – but the Plaintiffs in this case have options to consider. They’ve made it pretty clear in their social media postings that they want to look at other legal possibilities, so I urge our residents not to think this is over and, above all, don’t gloat.”

Mayor Bawden refused to speculate on what the Plaintiffs in the case may do next, but he did make note of the fact that the “problems” (both perceived and actual) arising from the Council’s decision to close and lock the gate at the end of South Kensington Street need to be addressed.

What’s next?

“I’ve already received messages from some of the more outspoken bike advocates threatening boycotts of Riverdale businesses and worse.” said the Mayor. “And while I think most of the rhetoric is just venting frustration, I think we need to realize that this situation has arisen out of concerns some trail users have about their safety when they’re using the MRT in Riverdale – and that’s an issue we need to continue working on as a city.”

The upcoming review and certification of the City’s proposed FY22 budget provides an immediate opportunity to show the City is serious about addressing some of those concerns. “We have two items in the FY22 budget that are related to some of the concerns raised by trail users and residents, alike,” he said. “I hope we’ll be able to adopt them into our FY22 project plan and get to work on them sooner rather than later.”

Those two projects include installing cameras on the traffic lights at the intersection of Bellingham Road and Hwy 67 (State Street) that will allow the lights to be triggered optically (when traffic approaches the intersection) rather than the current timer system. The system should also allow the City to capture the license plate numbers of vehicles that run the red light at the intersection so fines can be issued and evidence can be collected in the event of an accident.

The budget also provides an additional amount for re-painting the IADOT-approved bike crossing across Hwy 67 to make it more noticeable to vehicles using the street. “I’d hope we could work with an organization like Bi-State and the Quad City Bicycle Club” to improve the way the crossing is marked and directional signage along the trail as we make these improvements,” said Bawden.

A multi-jurisdictional solution is what’s needed

Mayor Bawden reiterated his intention of continuing to engage both the Iowa Department of Transportation and the City of Bettendorf in making improvements that address the safety, traffic and privacy concerns of both sides involved in the dispute. “Bettendorf is really a key to any long-term solution,” he said. “By working together, I hope we will be able to get the Iowa DOT to consider reducing the speed limit of State Street from 40 to 35 from downtown Bettendorf to the main gate entrance at Madison Street in Riverdale.”

“If we’re successful there and the Bettendorf Police Department enforces the speed limit, that could have a dramatic effect on the risks people face when they cross at Bellingham. Add to that the ability to identify vehicles that run the light at that intersection and a more visible crossing, and I think we’re off to a good start.”

The Mayor also pointed out that at some point he’s hopeful the City of Bettendorf will honor the commitment they made to turn the sidewalk running from the Duck Creek Bike Trail to the MRT at Bellingham (on the north side of State Street) into a full-sized, multi-use trail. That promise was memorialized nearly seven years ago but no further action has been taken by the Bettendorf City Council since. “I understand there may be some challenges to moving ahead on that commitment, but I’m not clear as to what those are,” Bawden said.

Water main blowout on Fenno Road wrecks road

Water main blowout on Fenno Road wrecks road

What follows is an update mailed on Friday to all affected residents of Monday’s water main break under Fenno Road which provided an overview of the situation and outlined what the City is doing to address the situation.

Background

On Monday, around 5pm, a water main ruptured under Fenno Road and eroded much of the substrate underlying the eastern lane of the roadway running up the hill. In some spots, the asphalt overlayment collapsed, creating a couple of sinkholes in the road.

The force of the water spilling from the main also washed tons of mud and debris into Valley Drive and into the Exide Battery plant to the south.

What We’ve Done So Far

After conducting some borings through the street, the City’s engineering firm (MSA Professional Services) advised us that in some spots there was as much as 36 inches of open space between the asphalt and the underlying foundation for the roadway. It’s clear to us that this makes the road very dangerous and while we are awaiting information about the western lane of the street, we’re asking residents to limit driving up and down Fenno Hill as much as possible.

We are currently working with Iowa-American Water Company to determine the best solution for repairing the damage to Fenno Road. The water company is responsible for the road repairs, but we are working with them and our city engineer to determine the best way to go about making them.

Our chief concern is that rushing to make street repairs right now could be problematic given the cold temperatures at night and the likelihood that concrete and asphalt poured at this time of year is not likely to set up correctly. In addition, the rehabilitation of Fenno Road (to address water drainage, pooling and freezing issues) has been on the Council’s priority list for a while and it doesn’t seem to make sense to replace the road now just to re-rehabilitate it at some point in the near future.

After conferring with our city administrator, Kent Royster, and our city engineer, it seems to me that if we took a little time over the winter to draw up the plans for the improvements we thought were needed on Fenno Road, we could repair the road and improve it simultaneously in the spring – saving the taxpayers money in the process.

This still creates a significant issue that we need to address though: how will the residents on Fenno Hill get to and from their homes if Fenno Road is in such poor (and potentially dangerous) condition? We’re currently considering two options:

Option 1:

We could work with the City of Bettendorf to put in a 4-way stop sign at Valley Drive and Fenno Road and then ask traffic going up and down Fenno to alternate/take turns. There are some potential drawbacks here – most notably the possibility that the western lane of Fenno Road might not be entirely safe and that if the road is icy or slippery, it may be difficult for traffic to stop at the 4-way stop.

We should have information on the condition of the west lane on Monday and we’ll share that information with the community as soon as possible.

Option 2:

We could work with Scott Community College and Mike Lauritsen to extend Fenno Drive as a gravel road that would run through Mike’s property and then the College’s property to eventually meet up with the College’s drive at the top of the hill (at the existing roadway cut-in). I will be meeting with SCC officials on Monday morning to review the feasibility of this – but both Mike and SCC were amenable to helping us out.

If we created the extension, we could direct people entering the neighborhood to come in at the Valley Drive entrance and head up the hill on the western lane. For people leaving the neighborhood, they could head west on Fenno Drive and exit using the gravel road to the College drive.

In the event Fenno Road is unsafe, we could set up the gravel road to accommodate two­ way traffic or, alternating traffic.

No matter which strategy we use, our goal is to have it in place before the snow flies (which looks like it could be in about 10 days). We’ll be sure to let you know what the plan is as soon as we can.

Garbage Pick-Up

Obviously, with the road situation, we’ve had to make some changes to accommodate garbage and recycling pick-up (since the regular truck will not be able to make it up the hill).

For the foreseeable future, garbage and recycling pick-up on Fenno Hill will be on Wednesdays. Republic will serve these homes with a smaller vehicle that we think can navigate the narrower road.

A gallery of photographs taken on Friday can be found below:

Online phone directory removed to prevent potential harassment.

Online phone directory removed to prevent potential harassment.

City Hall was notified that social media posts had started appearing on Facebook that shared the addresses and phone numbers of the mayor, at least one member of the City Council and several residents of the Havens Acres neighborhood. The posts were on a group page dedicated to fighting the closure of the connector path between the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and South Kensington Street in Riverdale.

The reason why the addresses and links to the online phone directory on the City’s website were shared isn’t stated, but several members of the online group objected to the sharing of information and reported the post. The City also contacted the Quad City Bicycle Club and requested they help remove the post – the club has been helpful in quelling disruptive behavior on social media in the past.

The posts have now been removed from Facebook and the online phone directory has been removed from the City’s website for the time being.

“The online phone directory was something we put on the website when we first launched it,” explained Mayor Mike Bawden. “It was provided as a convenience for residents so they could contact their friends and neighbors. Those residents who didn’t want their information on the website could ask for it to be removed – and did.”

“Given the actions of a few people who are very upset with the closure of the connector path between the MRT and Kensington Street, it’s probably best we remove the directory for the time being. If it comes back, it will probably need to come back behind in a secure/password protected section of the website.”

Members of the Facebook group who objected to the posting of private residential addresses and phone numbers contacted the City directly to make sure officials there were aware of what had happened and could take action.

There are two (or more) sides to every issue …

There are two (or more) sides to every issue …

Thanks in large part to outrage expressed by some members of the biking community on social media, Riverdale has found itself, once again, in the media’s spotlight. This time, the controversy swirls around the City’s decision to erect a barrier fence along the Mississippi River Trail behind some homes on Wisteria Lane and across a city-owned lot with a cement path that connects the MRT to Kensington Street. By blocking this path with the fence, Riverdale effectively cuts off access to a public road that bikers and pedestrians can take between the MRT and the Duck Creek Bike Trail which terminates in VanGundy Park just a few blocks away.

Members of the Quad City and Des Moines bike riding community seem to think I’m a tool.

Even though this has been a major subject of discussion at Council Meetings and Town Hall Meetings for the past two years, the snow fence erected while Kensington and Wisteria road resurfacing work caught many in the bike community by surprise. The City’s reluctance to remove the snow fence as the road project reaches its conclusion has pushed more outspoken members of the bike community well beyond surprise to indignation.

I’ve included some of the comments made by bike riders in this post so you can see what people are saying to me and about Riverdale during all of this. And while I’ve had to remind a few residents to tone down the rhetoric a time or two, Riverdale residents, by and large, are asking good questions and expressing their points of view fairly openly.

That includes a resident or two who don’t necessarily agree with the City’s decision and have made a point of calling that out on social media as well.

And that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

So here’s mine.

According to some bikers, I lie for a living. And as for the north side of State Street – I’m not shifting responsibility there to them – the north side of State Street between Duck Creek and Brenny’s is in Bettendorf.

I, quite literally, don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m the mayor of Riverdale and a user of the MRT and DCBT. I’ve used the connector at Kensington and I’ve had a bike rider who wasn’t paying attention hit my car with his bike while I was waiting for him to pass over my driveway to get onto State Street (fortunately neither the biker nor my car were injured).

I have a lot of friends who bike on the trails. Some of them understand the frustration of the Riverdale residents most affected by the bike and pedestrian traffic using the connector trail to go up and down Kensington, some of my friends do not. But because they’re my friends, they’ve taken the time to reasonably and patiently explain their positions to me.

And, of course, I have lots and lots of friends in Riverdale. Several live right down there in the Havens Acres neighborhood and have had to deal with what all of them (to a person) say is a major inconvenience to the “quiet enjoyment” of their life in the neighborhood. I understand that. I used to live in the McClellan Heights neighborhood in Davenport and although the Bix 7 race was fun every year, dealing with the straggling joggers and walkers doing the “Bix at Six” training runs a month or two before the big race could be a real hassle.

So, it’s as mayor of Riverdale that I approach this problem. And as the mayor, it’s my job to be the point-guy to take the questions and to reach out to those affected most to see if we can work out a solution that will work for everyone in a way that reassures people the roads they travel are safe and that their property rights are being respected.

What that probably means is that NOBODY is going to be 100% satisfied with the solution that eventually results. So, now you’re warned.

I’m a person who tries to deal fairly and from a position of fact and knowledge. That’s a little unusual for someone who trades in emotion, humor and rhetoric for a living, but it’s who I am. And maybe because I work with words and with journalists, I really don’t like exaggerations made to make a point and I abhor intentional misstatements of truth. Those are shenanigans that decrease the power and potency of the person making the claims in my book … and there’s been plenty of that in this latest tempest.

What Do People Have Wrong?

There are incorrect, inaccurate and possibly intentionally misleading claims being made by some people in the bike community that don’t help their argument and undercut the offers to help made by leadership from community bike clubs who want to help us find a solution. One news report showed a member of the bike community say that Riverdale was not allowing people to ride on Kensington Street. “Any cyclists who are using the Mississippi River Trail can no longer use this public street,” said James McAdams to WQAD’s Bianca Reyes.

So, I’m guessing if there’s a lawsuit over this issue, we’ll have the Quad City Bike Community to thank for it.

That’s not true. The streets in Riverdale are public thoroughfares and can be used by anyone. What Riverdale is restricting is access across city-owned property at the end of Kensington Street.

But this is just one of several incorrect portrayals of what’s really going on. I’ve also found references made by members of the bike community to Riverdale’s intention of cutting off or blocking the MRT. Again, that’s not true.

In fact, we want people to use the MRT. As it was originally designed. Ride in at 42nd Street and Duck Creek, peddle behind the Havens Acres neighborhood to Bellingham Road, cross State Street at the federally-approved bike crossing that’s there and then continue down the MRT back into Bettendorf.

But trail users want to be able to make a connection between the MRT and the DCBT and for them, the option of turning left at Brenny’s when they cross State Street isn’t a good option. Some – including the board of the Quad City Bike Club – feel the crossing at State Street isn’t safe.

That’s understandable. It’s common sense that going under a road is safer than going over a road. But to me, this is more about making a desperate argument to forestall the inevitable fence and gate that will be installed over the connector at Kensington Street than it is about safety.

In the nearly 2-1/2 years I’ve been mayor, I’ve received 0 complaints from bike riders or pedestrians about the safety of the Belligham/State Street intersection. During the same time, I’ve received over 400 calls from residents in Havens Acres complaining about bike and pedestrian traffic on Kensington. Recently, I was told that on a good day now, residents in the neighborhood are seeing between 500 and 1,000 people bike, walk or jog up and down Kensington Street.

And therein lies another problem.

Anecdotal claims are interesting, but not necessarily helpful. Is there a lot more bike and pedestrian traffic on Kensington when it’s a nice weekend day? I don’t doubt that. How much more? I don’t know.

I will tell you this, though, I’ve seen bike riders ride through a resident’s yard to get from the MRT to the street. I’ve seen the disrespect shown both directions. And I’ve seen glass and broken rock put on the connector between Kensington and the MRT.

And I’ve seen how the bike community talks about the residents of Riverdale on social media.

None of those things are helpful or acceptable.

So, What Do We Really Know?

Here is a message I sent to a resident who was “ashamed” of Riverdale’s decision. I understand her point. She says she worked with the residents who managed to bring the MRT into reality nearly ten years ago and she’s a frequent user of both bike paths and the connector between them on Kensington Street. But just as she’s questioned residents about the claims they’ve made associating neighborhood crime with the MRT, she makes similarly questionable claims of her own.

All I have to go on is what I’ve seen first-hand and the people I’ve spoken to, personally. These are the things I think are fairly certain about this situation:

1. There has been persistent trespassing by people using the trails:

•  I’ve spoken to bike riders who have apologized for cutting through the city-owned lot before there was a cement connector path for about 3 years.

•  The existence of the connector trail, itself, speaks to the persistent trespassing across the city-owned lot. I’ve spoken with our maintenance man, George Miller, who recalled being instructed on multiple occasions to re-seed and restore the goat path/cow trail the bikers and pedestrians had created on the city-owned lot. He said the City finally had Kenny Mahler just pave the path to cut down on the mud and debris being left in Kensington Street.

•  I’ve seen photography of tire tracks across Mike Steen’s yard from the MRT to Kensington (or, possibly the other direction)

•  I’ve personally witnessed a biker pedal across someone’s yard on Wisteria to make his way from the MRT to the city street.

2. There are not good records of the intentions or plan for the MRT or for the connector path in the City’s archives. According to what I’ve been told by previous mayors, there has been long-standing reluctance to document things because of the City’s history of litigation.

3. The QCTimes report on the original extension of the MRT in 2012 documented the Havens Acres neighborhood’s resistance to the path and their request for a fence to keep people from cutting through the city-owned lot at the end of Kensington.

4. That same article quoted the mayor at the time (Jack Franklin) saying he recommended the fence, but the City Council didn’t vote for it.

5. I personally witnessed previously-elected officials disparaging residents in the Havens Acres neighborhood as being poorer, unintelligent and not worth the effort when it came to dealing with this issue.

8. Home values in the neighborhood have not changed appreciably in the 8 years since the MRT was put in. In fact, the City’s assessed property values have not changed significantly in either direction since the total elimination of the state’s M&E tax in the early 2000s.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I will continue to meet with the Quad City Bike Club and other area bike clubs to make sure they understand that Riverdale will work with them to address the concerns of their members when they’re in our city. That’s an obligation of any elected representative and it’s the right thing to do. One of the first things we’ll be working on is improving and replacing signage for trail users so they have a better understanding of how to make the connection between the trails safely and efficiently.

I will also meet with Bi-State this week to discuss setting up a traffic study at the connector between the MRT and Kensington Street so we can get an accurate count of peak traffic volumes using the connector (and Kensington Street) between the two trails. This will be an inconvenience for residents in Havens Acres (again) for a period of time, but the data collected is really important.

The City has good relationships with both the City of Bettendorf and the Iowa DOT. If there is going to be any work performed on alternate connection routes, those parties need to be a part of the conversation. The north side of State Street (between Duck Creek and Brenny’s) is in Bettendorf and the sidewalk on the south side of State Street (between the Pancake House and Bellingham) is almost entirely within the Iowa DOT’s right of way for Hwy 67.

And here’s the thing, the very first question they’re going to ask is: “How many people are we talking about, anyway?” If we want to make sure something happens, we need hard numbers, not anecdotal claims that opposing sides will question whether they’re accurate or not.

I will continue to reach out to the businesses affected by this decision. There is an impact felt by both the Duck Creek Pancake House and My Place – and we need to be a constructive partner in helping find and develop a solution.

And finally, we need to realize that we have an obligation to work through this issue in its entirety. We can’t just build a fence and call it a day. We need to understand and respect the concerns raised by bikers and walkers on the MRT – and if there’s a way to help them feel safe making the connection between trails while they’re in Riverdale, we owe that to the community at-large. But, by the same token, I am responsible to the City and its residents to make sure our homeowners feel safe in their homes and to reduce or remove nuisances that make the “quiet enjoyment” of their neighborhood difficult.

Nobody is happy now. Nobody is likely to be happy once we’ve worked out a solution. But then again, maybe that’s how we know things were handled equitably?

More Comments from Unhappy Bikers

Here are some of the comments I’ve seen in the past day or two. There are new ones out on Facebook now, more misstatements and misinformation. Some of it, I’m sure, is unintentional (it’s not a particularly easy subject to research and understand if you don’t live here already). But a lot of it is just trying to wind people up.

So, spoiler warning, a lot of these comments say nasty things about Riverdale, Havens Acres residents and me. If that is likely to upset you, don’t waste your time reading them.

Erosion on Manor Drive Hill becomes a growing concern

Erosion on Manor Drive Hill becomes a growing concern

Damage caused by erosion on the west side Manor Drive Hill continues to increase thanks in large part to the heavy downpours experienced the last few days (and forecast for the coming week). Resident volunteers, most notably Steve Townsend and Mark Griswold, have worked to clear away debris from the catch basins along the road so water can flow more freely through the storm water system, but erosion coming down the hillside is getting especially pronounced.

Photos and video taken Sunday morning show significant scoring and erosion.

The Mayor will meet with the City’s engineer on Tuesday to discuss this problem in more detail and have a preliminary proposal for Council consideration at its next meeting.

In the meantime, volunteer help is still needed to try and deal with downpours expected this week. If you are interested and willing to help, please call City Hall during regular business hours at : 563-355-2511.

Council agrees to dig into drainage problem behind homes on Manor Drive.

Council agrees to dig into drainage problem behind homes on Manor Drive.

At their last meeting of the City Council, Riverdale Council Members agreed that it was time to look a little closer at the drainage problems causing sink holes to develop in the back yards of several residents in the 200 block of Manor Drive.

The issue was presented as a motion to direct staff to inspect the clogged drainage line behind 234 Manor Drive and then discern the size and shape of the storm water lines running through the back yards and to the main line under Fieldcrest Road (to the north).Once the size and nature of the problem can be determined, staff will work with the City Engineer to estimate a cost to repair the damage.

After the cost and scope of work is estimated, the mayor said he’ll sit down with residents and talk through the options available to them.  “It’s too early to know just who is involved or what a repair might cost,” explained the Mayor. “But it’s not going to get any cheaper – so the Council decided it was better to take this matter head-on now rather than wait for things to get much worse down the road.”

The drainage lines do not appear on any maps of sanitary or storm water sewer maps in the City’s archives. “It looks like this might have been something the residents did on their own,” explained the Mayor. “And if that’s the case, and the lines were never conveyed to the City, then there’s not much we can (or should) do.”

“On the other hand,” he continued. “If we don’t, at the very least, work with residents to find out what’s wrong and what it will take to fix things, property values in the neighborhood could suffer in the long haul and that hurts everyone.”

Investigative work in the neighborhood is expected to occur this summer.

For more information on this project, click here for the initial story

 

Update: Weather slows Havens Acres roadwork, but plans are to finish it this week!

Update: Weather slows Havens Acres roadwork, but plans are to finish it this week!

(UPDATE: MAY 4, 2020) – Roadwork continued today from the weekend with all of Wisteria completed as well as most of the southern half of Kensington Street (south of the railroad tracks). The northern half of Kensington Street is expected to be completed on Wednesday or Thursday, as are a few of the driveway entrances that still need asphalt paving.

The only possible bug in the works? Garbage pick up for the neighborhood was delayed to Wednesday to allow the street crew time to finish the job – but with rain in the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday), it’s now likely we’ll have garbage trucks and pavers cruising through Havens Acres at the same time.

No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos from Council Member Kelly Krell who lives in the neighborhood:


Work on the Havens Acres Roadway Rehabilitation project moves from “behind the curb”  and “into the street” this week as Brandt Construction, the contractor hired to remove and replace the surfaces of Kensington and Wisteria Streets accelerates their project timeline thanks to an early end to the school year.

According to project manager, Troy Stimpson, Residents in the Havens Acres neighborhood should expect some slight delays this week as roadway is removed on Monday and Tuesday, mat is laid down on the roads on Wednesday and then a new road surface is applied on Thursday and Friday. The schedule is, of course, dependent upon cooperative weather – which doesn’t look likely as of this weekend.

Forecasts for the week show one day of possible thunderstorms (Tuesday) and rain again the following day. If the forecasters are right, it might be sometime next week when the actual roadways are reinstalled.

MidAmerican Energy says “yes” when Riverdale residents asked for “Trees, please!”

MidAmerican Energy says “yes” when Riverdale residents asked for “Trees, please!”

Thanks to some persistence by long-time residents Linda and Dale Hupp, the City of Riverdale is the recipient of a $1,000 grant through the “Trees, Please!” program from MidAmerican Energy. The City Council will consider a resolution authorizing the spending of an additional $1,000 this year to match the grant (a requirement), meaning we could see the two thousand dollars’ of new trees gracing Riverdale’s parks and green spaces later this year.

More information about the “Trees, Please” grant can be found here. The resolution to be considered by the City Council at Tuesday’s meeting – can be found here.

An early end to the school year may help speed up street repairs in Havens Acres neighborhood.

An early end to the school year may help speed up street repairs in Havens Acres neighborhood.

Iowa Governor Reynolds ordered the end of the school year late last week, so now the City of Riverdale is working with contractors to possibly accelerate the road project currently underway in the Havens Acres neighborhood.

The original plan called for work “in the street” to begin after the end of school on June 8. The Governor’s orders change that, allowing Brandt Construction to move into the streetwork as soon as they’re finished doing their work “behind the curb.”

According to project manager, Troy Stimpson, the contractor will keep the City and its residents informed of their project timeline so accommodations can be made:

“We will proceed with milling and asphalt paving after the other work is done behind the curb.  We’ll keep you posted on our schedule. As always, we will also monitor the virus and any potential impacts it will have on our project schedule.”

The total project comes to around $221,000 and was originally slated to be completed in late-July/early-August.

Sinkholes appearing in backyards signals drainage issues for Riverdale residents

Sinkholes appearing in backyards signals drainage issues for Riverdale residents

Sinkholes appear to line up along a slight depression in the ground indicating an underground drainage line of some sort.

Last year, Riverdale resident, Jim Beran, asked the City Council to look into a problem he was having with storm water backflowing into his home from the drainage system installed behind his house. The resulting inspection, conducted by MSA Professional Services, estimated the problem could extend to a number of homes along Manor Drive running from 210 Manor to 266 Manor. The estimated cost of repair (preliminary, at best) was in excess of $11,000.

It was also determined, after the City hired a lawyer to look into it further, that the drainage lines behind the homes on Manor Drive were never conveyed to the City and, as a result, were not the City’s responsibility to keep repaired and operational. It was determined in the fall that the City would wait until sometime in 2020 to investigate the matter further.

The heavy downpour on March 27th changed that.

Sinkholes have now appeared in more backyards along at least one of the drainage lines and it now appears the City will need to act sooner rather than later.

The Mayor and City Council will discuss a possible plan of action at the next regular meeting of the Council on April 14th and determine what efforts should be made to fully define the extent of the problem and the location of one or more drainage lines running between the homes that back up to each other along Manor and Circle Drives.

Sinkholes appear near many of the small manhole covers providing access to the drainage line running behind homes along Manor Drive.

Kensington closed to bike traffic during road construction

Kensington closed to bike traffic during road construction

As Brandt Construction continues to work on the roadway rehabilitation project in the Havens Acres neighborhood (specifically along Kensington and Wisteria Streets), the improved weather has inadvertently created a dangerous situation. Bikers and walkers using the Mississippi River and Duck Creek Bike Trails and, as in previous years, try to take the short-cut through Havens Acres to connect between the two.

Residents there reported over a half-dozen, “near miss” accidents with bicyclists and construction vehicles on Friday, resulting in the City posting signs and putting up a snow fence blocking off Kensington Road. Some riders continued to ignore signs and climbed over the snow fence over the weekend, so the City will install more signs and a second level of snow fence to make the need to detour around the construction a little more “obvious.”

“It’s terribly disappointing that a few bicyclists would flagrantly ignore our attempts to create a safe construction environment down here,” said Mayor Mike Bawden. “We already have our hands full with relatively narrow roads (built in the 40s and 50s), increased neighborhood traffic because more residents are staying home due to COVID-19, and the possibility that school may resume in a few weeks putting more kids and school vehicles into the area at the same time.”

“There’s not much we can do about neighborhood traffic or school buses, but reducing the amount of walkers and bikers going through the area should be a relatively easy thing to accomplish,” he said.

Plans for a more permanent barrier fence between the MRT and Havens Acres neighborhood are moving forward. The fence will create a more permanent closure of Kensington Street and is just part of a larger plan to help re-direct bike and pedestrian traffic around the neighborhood.