By Andre James, Correspondent
The Belton City Council was presented with a proposal from the City Clerk to enter into a professional services agreement with Kasberg, Patrick and Associates for the East 6th Avenue Gateway Project. This project would establish the 6th Avenue Exit from IH-35 as the Gateway into the city and along with cleaning up the general area and making it prettier would also be focused on improving the area’s infrastructure.
“6th Avenue is one of our main gateways, especially with the McDonald’s there, and people are coming into town and using that exit”, said Mayor Marion Grayson. “Honestly, 6th Avenue is ready for redevelopment, there is a lot of property there that’s available, and it leads right into Main St. Development there could increase, just like when 439 widened.”
City staff was initially tasked by the council as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Strategic Plan to start the initial planning, and after meeting with local utility providers to see if it feasible to relocate both wet and dry utilities, came back with an estimate of 3 to 5 million. This figure doesn’t include the costs for new easements/right-of-ways, sidewalks, or lighting, and at its current scope would cover from the IH-35 service road all the way to North Main Street. It was recommended that this is done using a phased approach. First drafting the Preliminary Engineering Design with the project’s scope, concepts, determine needed easements and ROWs, preliminary cost estimates, and phasing plans. Next would be obtaining easements, and right-of-ways, relocating dry and then wet utilities, then replacing and installing new sidewalks and lighting.
The City Clerk recommended entering into a professional services agreement with Kasberg, Patrick and Associates, who gave a quote of $67,910 for the Preliminary Engineering Design. This would be a six-month process and would include developing concepts, plans for relocating utilities, phasing plans for design and construction, and weekly meetings with city staff.
However, while the council agreed that the area needs to be cleaned up, and have its utilities replaced, they ultimately felt that the scope of the project was too large and that shrinking down the area would waste less money and lead to a better end result. The Council unanimously voted to have city staff scale down the planed area, potentially to half its current size, and to be brought back to the council members at a later date with updated pricing.
“I think in reality if we’re looking at a 3 to 5 million dollar price tag, and especially with relocating utilities and potentially having to do a lot of infrastructure improvements, that the price tag is maybe going to grow north of $5 million, and that’s probably not going to be the most critical thing for Belton”, said David Leigh. “I think that we get a better product from the engineering services if we decrease the scope at this time instead of study the whole thing because the reality is that from I-35 to about where the old school property is, is a hot mess.”
“From an engineering perspective, the broader the scope, the less accurate you’re going to get, and the more money you’re going to spend,” said David Leigh.