Davenport’s capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2014 includes defibrillators, design work for the central fire station and a bus maintenance facility, but no traffic roundabouts.
Aldermen met Saturday morning to discuss the estimated $15.43 million capital improvements budget and provided the most direction toward parks development despite hearing about a wide range of projects.
On Monday, the City Council heard a proposal that involved using traffic roundabouts at 10 intersections as part of a plan for turning 3rd and 4th streets from one-way to two-way thoroughfares. At the time, the idea produced groans from some aldermen while others supported the idea. Several aldermen had traveled recently to Carmel, Ind., just north of Indianapolis, to see what that city has done to implement the circular intersections.
The proposal introduced at the start of the week was to put roundabouts at the intersections of 3rd and 4th streets with Iowa, Harrison, Gaines, Marquette and Division streets. But no money was allocated for the project Saturday. However, the Public Works Department is proceeding with a plan to add parallel parking on Harrison Street between Locust and 6th streets.
Public Works director Mike Clarke said that roundabouts were presented as a way of lowering costs and that no decision has been made on them. But he said that converting 3rd and 4th streets is not part of any funding plans over the next few years.
The original estimate for converting the two one-way streets into two-ways was $2.2 million to install new traffic lights along the route. The plan using roundabouts, stop signs and traffic lights carried a price tag of only $500,000, though.
Fire Chief Lynn Washburn raised safety concerns with the roundabouts earlier in the week, saying that they could impede response times for fire trucks. It was pointed out that conversion of the Harrison Street intersections would need state approval because it carries U.S. 61 traffic.
There was some support for the plan earlier in the week from the standpoint of making downtown more accessible and opening up more parking.
The council directed city staff to commit $25,000 to River Heritage Park for work that needs to be done ahead of the construction of a gazebo donated by the Davenport Rotary Club, $20,000 for a restroom at the park and $50,000 for improvements to softball fields in Junge Park. The money will come from a balance of $100,000.
The balance is part of $300,000 allocated for park development in this year’s capital improvement budget. Aldermen decided to divide the $300,000 three ways: between River Heritage Park, which is at River Drive and East 4th Street; Veterans Memorial Park, which is at River Drive and Marquette Street, and a proposed softball complex at 53rd Street and Eastern Avenue. That property is being sold.
Proceeds of the property sale will not be allocated specifically to parks, but they will be used as part of the entire capital improvement budget.
Alderman Mike Matson, 8th Ward, wants $200,000 from parks development in the fiscal year 2014 budget to be used for designing phase two of Veterans Memorial Park. That is the entire amount budgeted for park development in the next fiscal year.
The park drew the only public comment of the meeting, from Annette Wood of the Friends of Veterans Memorial Park, who asked that the council not forget about funding it.
The council also heard that work on the central fire station continues, with design work to begin on the project in July, followed by new construction on the building beginning in July 2014 and that work and renovation of the old building be completed in 2016.
Aldermen voiced their concerns about a lack of funding for an expansion of 76th Avenue until fiscal year 2018. Clarke told the council the project is in line for federal funding through the Bi-State Regional Commission’s transportation program.
The police department is seeking $85,000 for improvements to its interview rooms. Assistant Chief Don Schaeffer told aldermen that sound from interviews is “bleeding” into other rooms, compromising statements that are not admissable in court, so additional soundproofing is required.
Also, the budget includes $40,000 for an engineering study on waterproofing the downtown skybridge over River Drive.