Letters Chestnut Street meeting won't be 'thorough'

To the editor:

Last week, on the front page of the Plain Talk, there was a report on the "public information session" that the mayor is holding on the Chestnut Street project. I would like to correct an erroneous impression that has been given.

The article states that this session will be, "? a thorough presentation on the Chestnut Street improvement project." It will, in fact, be quite the opposite. There will be nothing "thorough" about it.

This session has been designed by the mayor, city manager and city engineer to present only one side of the issue ? their side. Only the old plan for the million and a half dollar 24-foot road will be presented.

When members of the public and city council asked if alternative plans could be presented, the answer was a resounding "No." When members of the public asked if alternative uses for the million dollars that would be saved by building a more moderate design could be presented, the answer was the same.

This is hardly going to be a "thorough presentation."

When the mayor was asked about presenting alternatives to the old design, he stated that there are no alternatives because an engineering study has not been done on any alternatives. According to the city engineer, however, such a study can be done for approximately $16,000. Using the city's total for the project of $1.3 million (which is likely low) that would make the cost of an updated study 1.2 percent of the total project cost. These funds could be taken out of the project costs.

Anyone who has been in business knows that a $16,000 expenditure that could potentially save over a million dollars is a good investment. This amount could be saved in litigation costs alone. Are our mayor, city manager and city engineer so accustomed to spending taxpayers' dollars that they can't see that this would be a prudent expenditure?

Our city council is struggling to be able to consider alternatives to this massive expenditure, yet they are being stymied at every turn.

At a February city council meeting, when discussing Chestnut Street, Mayor Kozak stated, "This probably is the number one priority concern in our community right now, and I really feel we want to be as well informed as we possibly can as we take a look at the situation." The mayor is spending $5,000 to make a "virtual" picture of the design he wants, but was unwilling to spend $3,000 for soil studies to determine the stability of the bluff. Well informed? Apparently only if it fits into his agenda.

He went on to state, "We are talking a million three (dollars) for a project here, and I want to try to make the best possible decision I can, and I think the more information I have to make that decision the better that decision will be." If that is the case, will he allow the council to have an updated engineering study done, one that will look at alternatives? Or is this just empty rhetoric?

The leaders and staff of this city should be looking for every opportunity to conserve taxpayer dollars. As reported last week, our school district is considering going to a 4-day school week. This is alarming. There are only so many tax dollars to go around.

What kind of choices are we making here? Where are our priorities as a community? Where are the priorities of those we have elected to represent us?

Lynette Melby


Wakonda election was a bitter victory

This letter was originally intended to be in last week's newspaper, but due to a misunderstanding was not published. I have re-read it, thinking that perhaps I should just pull it out, but after overhearing conversation in a Vermillion eating establishment and learning of some election day "happenings," I will "let it ride."

Letter to the

people of Wakonda:

By the time this is printed, the Wakonda school district dissolution election will be over, but the dust will never settle.

I, too, received unsigned letters, starting at the very beginning, dealing with the bond issue. If I remember correctly, all but one were unsigned (some had a "group" name as signature). While I agree with the basic premise of the Wakonda Community Club's ad in the Broadcaster and Wakonda Times dealing with no signatures, I have to think that spending the Community Club's funds by placing an ad such as that was to me, ill thought out.

It seems to be no less than spending an organization's money to publicly berate a certain group of people. We have enough of that happening everyday in the political arena.

I would think an advertisement stating the benefits children could receive by attending the Wakonda school should have been the way to go. That has positive connotations, not the negative, "casting aspersions" tone of the ad that was published.

I am not from this area. I moved here in 1984 and perhaps can look at the issue with an unemotional eye. I am not going to get into which plan was for the betterment of the students, I can only see that it has destroyed the town and surrounding area.

Families have been split, friendships ruined and I seriously think that people will never again be the way they were.

One question � why couldn't everyone have acted with civility and courtesy to one another? The Golden Rule should not have been cast aside.

It made no difference how the election turned out. I think we are all losers.

Vikki Eilts


City is source of misinformation

To the editor:

I read with interest that the mayor is holding an informational meeting concerning the Chestnut Street improvement project. A thorough reading of the article makes is apparent that the mayor is seemingly only holding this meeting in order to further his personal wishes.

Our city council members have valiantly tried to consider more moderate alternatives ? alternatives that could save Vermillion�s taxpayers over a million dollars and still meet the objectives of paving and improving Chestnut Street. At the mayor�s information meeting, however, no alternatives will be presented.

Mayor Kozak has said that he is concerned that there is a lot of �misinformation� about the project. Much of that �misinformation� has come from the city itself. Perhaps the city should be more careful with its statements concerning the project.

Example: We hear from the mayor and city staff repeatedly about the �28-foot road.� How many citizens are aware that there is no 28-foot road being contemplated? for the $1.3 million, there will be only a road with 24 feet of driving lane, with curb and gutter on each side. A more modest alternative that has been discussed would pave the present road at a cost of $300,000. That alternative is for a road that would be approx. 20 feet. That is an extra million dollars for only 4 extra feet, yet the mayor and city staff continually talk about a 28-foot road vs. a 20-foot road. Is this what is called �fuzzy math?� maybe this is part of the �misinformation� the city would like to correct?

Example: We were told for years by city staff that �this is the plan the railroad wants.� This is, of course, not true. The railroad is mandating the one million dollar retaining wall only because, for a 24 foot road, the city would be bringing in ton after ton of fill dirt and bringing the road closer to their tracks. The railroad never wanted this plan. Is this �misinformation� something that the city would like to correct?

Example: We were also told for years by city staff that �this is the plan the state wants.� Again, this in not the case. The DOT tells us that the money available for this project could be spent elsewhere within the city, that the state stays �hands off� on projects within the city. �Misinformation� that needs to be corrected?

I also find the timing of the mayor�s information meeting interesting. The city has been discussing Chestnut Street for years. Anyone who cared to be has been involved. Why did Mayor Kozak decide to hold such a meeting now? Is it because the city council members now want to explore the more reasonable alternatives? Is this a meeting not meant so much for public information as it is a meeting meant to steer the council members back into the $1.3 million project fold?

Our city council was heading in the right direction. They want to look alternatives. The cost of looking at such alternatives is minor in comparison to the expensive design. Road and land use in and around Vermillion has changed since the elaborate plan was originally drawn. The economy of Vermillion has changed. It is time for the wishes of the majority to be heard.

Thank you,

Jeanette Stone


City codes need updating

To the editor:

I�ve said this before, �In Vermillion, it all depends who you are and what your last name is.�

I�ve written before of homeowners� buying purchases and leaving them on their property or in front of their homes. Seconds later a ticket or variance is placed on them.

The big question is �Can I leave it there?� �Well I brought it, it�s mine!� �This is my property, why can�t I leave it here?� �It�s unsafe�, I�m told. Maybe we should get rid of our vehicles, too. They are unsafe for children to play with. The important people can have their vehicles to drive around and place tickets and/or variances on us who seem to bother you.

Why is it that one homeowner can have a boat parked in front of their home and get tickets numerous times? Down the same street other homeowners with boats parked in front of their property don�t get any tickets. I was told they work for the city of Vermillion.

Too bad in the �land of the free� we important people need to hide our purchases out of town in order to live in Vermillion.

I think all your rules and/or violation books need to be rewritten and updated. For an example; my decorated rocks are not classified as Ref: Junk and Debris, Pallet of wood. Also if I want a sofa and chair on my porch to sit on who are you (City of Vermillion) to tell me that�s not proper lawn furniture?

Let�s all grow up and quit picking on people. Try to set an example for our children.

Lois J. Getzin


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