Traffic light will again burn bright

City leaders decide to reinstall traffic signals after they're taken down to move a house. Council members cited safety concerns as the reason to put the lights back.

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January 26, 2021 - 10:22 AM

City crews will reinstall stoplights at U.S. 54 (Madison Avenue) and Buckeye Street after they come down to move a house. City leaders debated whether to keep them down but ultimately agreed with those concerned about safety if the lights were removed. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

The traffic light at the intersection of Buckeye Street and U.S. 54 will eventually go back up, the Iola City Council decided Monday night.

Interim city administrator Corey Schinstock had said “the traffic signal is not warranted based on the study we did.”

However, safety concerns were raised by council member Nancy Ford and others such that the group eventually decided the light would return once a nearby house had been moved.

As Mayor Jon Wells put it, there was “a very ambivalent consensus” following discussion; thus he said “let’s go ahead and put it back up.”

Even this arrangement might be temporary, though, as Schinstock pointed out that a pending highway expansion project may necessitate future changes.

City crews will reinstall stoplights at U.S. 54 (Madison Avenue) and Buckeye Street after they come down to move a house. City leaders debated whether to keep them down but ultimately agreed with those concerned about safety if the lights were removed. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Another item on the agenda was whether the city would purchase a downtown charging station for electric vehicles.

According to Jonathon Goering, economic development director at Thrive Allen County, the five-year agreement with Chargepoint would cost $2,000 per year.

As for the station’s larger purpose, Mayor Wells pointed to “optics” and “tourism,” and said business owners had already contacted him about the station’s potential benefit to their sales.

Schinstock likewise pointed to economic benefits, though not directly from the station. “It’s really not a profit-making thing,” he said. “Hopefully we can get more traffic to the downtown business area to generate more sales tax.”

There will be no charge to use the station initially, but that could change in the future.

Jonathon Goering speaks to the Iola city council about purchasing a charging station for electric vehicles.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

It is unknown at this time where the station would be located exactly, but the leading candidate appears to be along the square on Jefferson Avenue, just south of East Street.

Although council members seemed open to the proposition, no action was taken in order to first see if the county was interested in partnering with the city on the project.

The council also had to make a decision about having the industrial park in Iola deemed a “Certified Site” by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

As Goering explained, this “fast-tracks the site for development. … The state markets these sites a little more aggressively.”

In order to have the site certified, however, a number of tests must be performed and key criteria met. However, many of these tests, such as for soil toxicity, must be conducted prior to development anyway.

The cost for having the site certified Schinstock estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. He called the investment “a smart move.”

Council member Steve French agreed, saying “if we’re going to own 80 acres, let’s market it. Let’s use it. … Why sit on it?”

As the rest of the council was also amenable, they agreed to let Schinstock move forward with the process for certification.

Mayor Jon Wells, center talks with council member Mark Peters, left, while council member Nickolas Kinder listens.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

In other news, the city approved pursuit of a grant as well as made some major purchases.

The council gave fire chief Chase Waggoner the green light to pursue a very competitive grant for an amount exceeding $400,000.

Waggoner said, if awarded, he planned to spend the money on a replacement fire engine and personal protective equipment.

As for purchases by the city, one was to accept a bid for mill and overlay road repairs. This involves grinding off the top layer of asphalt and then replacing it with a new riding surface.

The work will be performed by Heckert Construction for $627,598.

The roads to be repaired are: State Street (Madison Ave. to Buchanan St.), Garfield Street (State St. to Cottonwood St.), Buchanan Street (State St. to Cottonwood St.), Jim Street (North St. to Cottonwood St.), White Boulevard (Jefferson Ave to ACC apartments), Sycamore Street (Buchanan St. to Lincoln St.) and Kansas Drive (East St. to Monroe St.).

The city also purchased a F-750 dump truck from Merle Kelly Ford of Kansas City, Mo., for $132,200 plus trade-in.

The truck will used primarily to haul salt during winter months, replacing an 18-year-old vehicle lovingly known as Unit #30.

The final purchase made by the city was for a new 2021 Ford F-350 one-ton truck for $45,131 from Twin Motor Ford.

The truck will be used to haul snow and pull the chipper trailer while cutting trees and brush.

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