Area residents express their views about possible bridge closure

RANDOLPH — Randolph city council members met with approximately 20 citizens during an open meeting Sept. 9 in the city auditorium.

A number of those attending expressed their views about the city’s consideration of not replacing a bridge on Douglas Street during the floodplain project. All views expressed by citizens were in favor of replacing the bridge.

“I think it is clear where the citizens stand on the bridge issue,’’ said Councilman Brad Bargstadt, councilman. “This was an option that was proposed to the city by the Corps of Engineers as something to save money.’’

Citizens said it is an important part of Randolph.

“The bridge has been there forever,’’ said Jerry Wiese, citizen. “The cost of the bridge is minor. We need to keep in mind that if we have a fire it might be the way the rescue squad would need to go. The other route may be too long. We should consider this before we decide to close that bridge. The loss of the bridge will bring more problems and more hazards. Now is the time to do it if we are going to replace the bridge. Funneling things down creates more congestion. It will be just like when someone is driving and they hit road construction.’’

Another resident, Kathy Moore, asked city officials about foot traffic and whether a traffic study was done to see how much traffic is routed through that street.

“You need to keep in mind, without that bridge that you will have all the traffic on one street. I can see so many things going wrong with this plan to not replace that bridge.’’

She said she didn’t see the value of trying to cut down on expenses by not replacing the bridge.

“All traffic running through to main street of Randolph will mean you will have to put up stop signs,’’ said Jim Billerbeck, resident. “We also need to look at what will the cost be 10 years from now, when the inconvenience to people brings the decision to replace the bridge.’’

Another community member, Gary Gubbels, said the golf course and new housing lots are located on that street.

“Not having a bridge on that street might be a deciding factor for someone looking at one of those new housing lots,’’ Gubbels said. “I would think the cost of the bridge in comparison to the rest of the project is minimal.’’

An individual who lives along Douglas Street, Randy Borst, said he originally thought he was in favor of not replacing the bridge.

“I originally thought it would be okay,’’ he said.

Borst said he has his grandkids in mind and thinks the absence of the bridge might mean dramatically more traffic past the southside of his house as people drive past to connect to the other bridge.

“I am for putting the bridge in,’’ Borst said. “The loss of the bridge is cutting off that end of town,’’ Borst said. “It will cost two or three times more to replace the bridge later.’’

Janelle Biernbaum asked about the considerations of the cost of putting in an (impasse or dead end) cul-de-sac.

Bradley said the cost of the bridge to Randolph is estimated to be about $35,000 for the city’s share. The total cost of the bridge is estimated to be upwards from $75,000. The cost of the total floodplain abatement project is $14 million. The federal government pays $10 million and the rest falls on Randolph and grants to pay for its completion.

The city’s budget was adopted. Although the tax levy will not increase, the operating budget reflects a 26 percent increase.

Mayor George Bradley said the amounts determined in the budget do not mean the city will actually spend those amounts. They are only guidelines so that the city has the money available if needed. The tax rate levy did not change.

The 2019 operating budget was $5,443,266. The 2020 operating budget is $6,865,990.

Property tax request for 2019 was $177,568. Property tax request for 2020 has been publicized at $184,904.

The valuation was $35,513,727 in 2019. The 2020 valuation is $36,980,958. This is a four percent change.

The tax rate remains the same at .499998. The 2018-2019 actual disbursements and transfers amount to $2,953,448.

The 2019-2020 actual/estimated disbursements and transfers amount to $4,404,524.

The 2020-2021 proposed budget of disbursements and transfers is $6,865,990.

The 2020-2021 necessary cash reserve is $1,751,180.

Randolph’s 2020-2021 total resources available are $8,617,170.

The total 2020-2021 personal and real property tax requirement is 184,904.

Unused budget authority created for next year is $1,107.57.

Personal and real property tax required for non-bond purposes is $184,904.

Tim Lemmons’ and Jeff Hartman’s resignations from the Randolph Volunteer Fire Department were accepted. Bargstadt said the two individuals should be recognized for their service. Kyle Gorsuch and Jerad Gubbels were appointed to the fire department.

Liquor licenses were approved for Jerry’s Hilltop for Oct. 17 for the Schnoor/Kuhl wedding at the city auditorium; the Drunken Moose, Nov. 14, for the Nordhues wedding at the city auditorium, and the Rath/Hart wedding at the city auditorium Nov. 21.

Roger Protzman of JEO (Johnson-Erickson-O’Brien & Associates) announced the award of a grant for the city of Randolph. No dollar amount was released. Protzman said the grant will allow Randolph to maintain institutional knowledge of its water system including the water and sewer details. The project would include developing maps and tracking all information without having to dig up and find what’s there.

“People change jobs and with them, institutional and structural knowledge goes along,’’ Protzman said. “This geographic information system would help preserve knowledge of the city’s water system.’’

The City completed their annual approval of the annual one and six year street plan.

“This is a wish list. We are not committed to do the projects on the plan. We just need to have some plans in place,’’ Bargstadt said.

Appointments to the planning commission, park board and fire department were discussed. City officials are inclined to create three committees by modifying current boards. Committee ideas are city beautification, cemetery and downtown revitalization. Josh Rayford has been working on the revitalization committee creation. Neighboring cities have created revitalization committees as this is the first step for gaining funds.

Rayford said the library board and library duties will be changed to encompass the cemetery board and cemetery duties. The cemetery book used in place now is very old and a number of problems have been associated with it.

New cameras have been added to the pool and landfill including two new cameras on the Veterans’ Memorial.

The new trash truck will arrive Sept. 14.

City officials are working on expanding the online bill paying option, including paying for utilities online with a debit or credit card.

Craig Fleming was approved for appointment to the planning commission.

Sue Meyer and Tim Kint were suggested as park board members, however action was tabled when councilman Dennis Bazata said an effort should be made to see if other individuals want to be taken off the park board before adding more members.

Ordinance 704 of the annexation plan was read which extends the corporate limits of the city.

The city will sell Rich and Deb Olson a triangular tract of land portion which didn’t get surveyed correctly. The Olsons will pay $2,000 to the City of Randolph. Action taken that evening was the first step of a two-step process to start a 30-day process to correct the surveyor’s error.

Three of four sides are done of the fire hall painting.

The Highway 20 improvement project will be next spring.

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