The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 3, 2014

To tree, or not to tree

By Brenden West Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON – One route provides Clinton a cheaper alternative for installing a new pressurized force main. The other will prevent 37 trees on Pershing Boulevard from being uprooted.

As for the residents, city engineer Jason Craft said they’re split between the two decisions. But no matter what Clinton decides, between Pershing Boulevard or Roosevelt Street, a force main update is in dire need.

Council members said this week during their City Services Commission discussion that neither choice will please everyone.

“This is one of those projects you have where no matter which way you go, you’re going to have somebody that’s unhappy,” Councilman John Rowland said.

Craft and Clinton Sewer Superintendent Dan Riney agreed that the Pershing route was the better alternative for Clinton. The engineer said that although the street was recently renovated, and construction will undoubtedly chew up some of the new finish, the trees along Pershing aren’t the immortal kind.

“Trees are not going to last forever in this urban area,” Craft said. “(The force main) was installed 50 years ago, and it will have to be replaced whether or not the DNR is involved.”

The city would plant new trees after the removal, but residents Craft surveyed were divided on their thoughts. Ten preferred the Pershing route; 10 preferred Roosevelt. And the lone swing vote was undecided. A total of 80 residents were invited to Craft’s public information meeting on Oct. 30.

Craft said tree removal was the only thing holding him back from pushing forward with the project. He said getting the City Council’s take will ease the solution.

“If it weren’t for the trees, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “In my estimation, 10 residents not in support of the Pershing Boulevard route is not a great representation sample of the entire city of Clinton.”

Other benefits to choosing Pershing are that the road between Eighth Avenue North and 16th Avenue North would receive a new sidewalk as well as ADA ramps. Saving trees was the only positive Craft found with opting for Roosevelt, with the negatives including a three to four month street closure. Since the city recently reconstructed the road, Craft estimated another Roosevelt update would take place "30 years ahead of schedule."

The commission resolved to send the matter to the April 22 Committee of the Whole meeting.

“I want to see what (the residents’) feelings are on this before I decide,” Councilman Ed O’Neill said.

The project is part of a three-year timetable for upgrading the 20th Avenue Pump Station, slated to begin July 1. Cost estimates are between $1.23 million and $1.4 million. The city could save $170,000 if it chooses Pershing Boulevard.