Viewpoint: Delaying needed Cottage Grove improvements will not save taxpayer moneyEventually the work will need to be completed, and the longer you wait the more it will cost. This does not save the community money in the long run.
By: By Ken Brittain, Cottage Grove, South Washington County Bulletin
This letter is in response to claims that millions of dollars have been saved due to citizens uniting against a neighborhood road project.
I would start by noting that Cottage Grove’s city engineer, Jennifer Levitt, and the Public Works Department work hard to provide services to our community with little acknowledgement or thanks. For instance, their creative effort in storm water ponding for Highlands Park accomplished the needed stormwater drainage improvement while providing a very nice amenity to a local park. They work diligently to keep our roads in the best shape possible, especially in the harsh climate within which we live. It is sad to hear statements criticizing our local public servants, and erroneously claiming millions of dollars in savings to the community by delaying needed road projects.
This same area in the late 1990s was also against having planned road improvements completed. So similar to what is happening now, the work was not done. This situation, however, has brought us to the point where the city has to do more work now to compensate for work that was not wanted when it was first scheduled. Of course, it will cost more now than it would have if the original plan had been followed as proposed. The 1999 project would have cost $1,639 per household and as a result of that delay it was projected to cost $4,340 per household if completed in 2012. Further, these delays would increase costs to residents within the pavement management area and all residents in the community, not save millions of dollars as portrayed by some. With the economy the way it is, there is a better chance of saving taxpayers and those assessed properties money by making improvements now. Any delay will inevitably lead to increased costs.
I would also add that the projected costs, as reported by some in the community, are misnomers. The project did not increase in costs, as reported, and in reality the neighborhood was getting much more than it was paying for, including $500,000 in park improvements which now will not occur.
The fact that the Public Works Department has done such a good job in patching the roads in this area may make them appear to be in good shape. However, a Band-Aid can look good on the outside, but if you look underneath, things can be quite different. Constantly having to patch roads that need more extensive repairs only makes it harder for the city to keep the other streets in the community in good shape.
The review by Public Works Commission and the Infrastructure Maintenance Task Force is reasonable and responsible, but at the end of the day, the solution must ensure equitable treatment between future neighborhoods and past pavement projects. Eventually the work will need to be completed, and the longer you wait the more it will cost. This does not save the community money in the long run.