Main Street identified as preferred major project for city

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Upgrading Main Street took precedence over a new safety center or swimming pool when the Hillsboro City Council, during its Feb. 21 meeting, began setting priorities for city-initiated improvements.

City Administrator Steven Garrett came to the council with a tentative list of projects to undertake during the next few years as part of a formal capital-improvement plan.

Not on the list were the three major projects that have surfaced from time to time in council discussions over the past few months: Main Street improvements, a new swimming pool, and a new safety center.

Garrett asked the council for its input. They quickly elevated Main Street to the top of that list. Several members pointed out that the street is continuing to deteriorate, particularly in isolated spots.

“We really should fix what we have before we have to build something new,” Councilor Mike Padgett said.

Councilor Matt Hiebert, emphasizing the priority of street repairs, said. “A new safety center would be nice, but we need a street to the safety center first.”

Padgett said it was important to keep Main Street attractive, particularly with new store vacancies emerging.

“It’s going to be hard enough to fill those buildings,” Padgett said.

An existing balance in the city’s capital improvements fund of more than $200,000 should enable the city to begin some repairs on Main Street in the coming year, the council concluded.

As for a new swimming pool, councilors seemed to agree that $2 million, the cost projected by one architect a couple of years ago, was simply more than the city could afford. Such a project would require an 11-mill tax increase.

“Unless a rich uncle leaves us a bunch of money,” Hiebert interjected.

Cost aside, Councilor Leonard Coryea said having a good swimming pool was important for a community because of its wide usage.

“A pool, 10 years from now, might be more important than a baseball field,” he said. “More kids use the pool.”

Garrett did say the bath houses at the swimming pool will need attention soon, regardless of the prospects for a new pool. The current bath houses were built in the 1950s and can’t be updated without also making them accessible to persons with physical disabilities, as per federal requirements.

“There’s no way we could retro-fit them,” Garrett said. “We’d be talking about new facilities then.”

He estimated that portion of the project could cost $200,000.

The council also agreed that the roof on the Adobe House’s attached barn should be replaced in 2002. The roof is already leaking and some historical artifacts could be jeopardized, the council was told.

The project, which was estimated some time ago to cost up to $15,000, could be covered with existing funds, Garrett said.

“I’d hate to see us put it off a year if we have the funds to do it, and then see things (inside the barn) get destroyed,” Mayor Delores Dalke said.

In other business, the council:

approved without debate an extension of tax abatement for Container Services, Countryside Feeds and Barkman Honey Co.

approved Ordinance No. 1054 and Resolution 2002-04 authorizing the issuance of temporary notes in the amount of $150,000 to repair the under drains at the city’s water-treatment plant.

approved new bylaws for the Hillsboro Recreation Commission.

was told the former Dari-Ette building would be razed this week.

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