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St. Paul Park residents to city: Don't pave our alleys

A group of St. Paul Park residents this summer presented a petition to officials at City Hall asking the city to pave their gravel alleyway between Selby and Lincoln avenues.

Then, apparently, they saw how much it would cost.

City Council members dropped the proposed paving of the Selby/Lincoln alleyway and two others nearby from a planned $1.4 million road and utility improvement project during the summer of 2012.

City policy calls for 100 percent of the cost of paving alleyways to be assessed to benefitting properties. (In contrast, only one-third of project costs for road and utility improvements are assessed to impacted properties.)

That, city officials say, would have meant some hefty assessment bills for homeowners - upwards of $3,000 for some, in addition to assessments levied for street and sewer work occurring as part of the larger road project that the council directed the city's engineer to draw up formal plans for during a meeting last week.

City Administrator Kevin Walsh and engineer Morgan Dawley guessed it was sticker shock that led most residents who returned a survey card to the city to say they didn't want their alleyway improved.

"In a general sense, people like the idea of their alley being paved," Dawley told council members during a hearing on the proposed project last week. "But there's a cost."

St. Paul Park is still moving forward with most of the estimated $1.4 million project that would rehabilitate streets and perform needed maintenance on water and sewer pipes in the neighborhood north and west of busy Heritage Park.

The City Council will consider final approval of the project in February.

Work would impact roughly 100 properties located on the following streets:

-- Summit Avenue, from Pullman Avenue to 14th Avenue;

-- Portland/Holley Avenue, from Pullman Avenue to 13th Avenue;

-- Ashland Avenue, from Pullman Avenue to 13th Avenue;

-- Laurel Avenue, from Pullman to 13th Avenue; and

-- 13th Avenue, from Summit Avenue to Lincoln Avenue.

"Just because we're pulling [alley improvements] out of this one doesn't mean we can't do it sometime in the future," said council member Tim Jones.