Ready, set, go on first concrete Stellar effort -- Anderson Street

Saturday, March 24, 2012
The current status of Anderson Street, here looking west from Bloomington Street, will never be the same after the first wave of construction work begins Monday. The intersection with Bloomington Street will see all the overhead utility lines disappear and will feature accent paving to help create a dynamic new entrance to the DePauw University campus.

As they like to say on the beer commercials these days: Here we go ...

More than a full year after being awarded one of the first two Stellar Grants by the state of Indiana, the City of Greencastle is about to see concrete proof of the more than $19 million infusion of cash into the community.

Until now, with the exception of the city-funded creation of the Wi-Fi bubble in the downtown area, progress has essentially been all behind the scenes.

On Monday, that will change as things begin to get serious.

"This is what we've been waiting for. Life has become fast and furious," Mayor Sue Murray said this week after the Greencastle Board of Works approved seven contracts relative to Stellar project work.

Six of those contracts directly affect the project to upgrade Anderson Street from Bloomington to Locust streets, creating what will become the gateway to DePauw University.

DePauw is funding the Anderson Street project, reimbursing the city for the cost of burying utility lines, relocating water and sewer lines, sidewalk and street paving projects.

Mayor Murray has repeatedly noted that without DePauw's involvement, there would be no Stellar Grant for Greencastle.

"DePauw paying for Anderson Street gives us match money for our other six projects," the mayor stressed.

The university has put up the 20 percent match for the $6 million INDOT portion of the overall $19,031,287 Stellar package. That's $1.2 million the city did not have in its $10 million annual budget, and thanks to DePauw, the funds have been leveraged against state and federal grant funds.

The Anderson Street project is due to restore two-way traffic to the section of Anderson between Bloomington and Locust.

For starters, the Board of Works awarded three separate contracts and a notice to proceed to Bret Hurley Construction, Greencastle, for water main relocation, wastewater work and (as an alternate) tree removal along Anderson Street. Hurley's work is set to begin Monday and must be done by April 28 in order for street construction to begin on time.

The city will share some of those utility costs with DePauw since the water and wastewater work was already in its five-year plan.

The project will relocate the water main behind the new sidewalks. That contract is for $69,053, while the wastewater portion will be $23,268. The tree-removal contract is for $5,000 for 10 trees.

"Those will be replaced by 50 other trees when the project is over, so there's a net gain of 40 trees," the mayor said.

The board also approved contracts for burying utility lines owned by Duke Energy, Cinergy Metro-Net, Gierke Telephone Systems, Frontier and Windstream.

Anderson Street

Again, since the city is the grant recipient, it will pay those costs up front with DePauw reimbursing the funds.

"We want to emphasize that it's construction season," the mayor said in forewarning residents. "This is going to keep us all with lots to watch this summer.

"Anderson Street folks will have alternate parking and we're not cutting anybody off from their homes.

"We will be trying to create as minimal amount of hassle as we can but we all know construction is messy," she added.

"We all need to remember that this is something we really celebrated last year, and we will be celebrating again," she noted.

The magnitude of the entire project -- which will also include the streetscapes on Indiana, Vine, Locust, Spring and Washington streets, along with College Avenue -- remains mind-boggling, even to city officials.

"Thirty years of work in three years," Board of Works member Trudy Selvia called it.

The unprecedented nature of the project caused City Attorney Laurie Hardwick to label it "unheard of ... never before done ..."

Hardwick also pointed out that the firm Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, which did the heralded Georgia Street design work for the City of Indianapolis Super Bowl project, has been chosen to do the Greencastle streetscapes.

In other business, the Board of Works:

-- Approved issuing a $12,970.72 check to DePauw as a refund for a misreading that occurred during summer 2011 on the university's sewage bill. The refund was initially being returned as a monthly credit to DePauw but that became a cumbersome bookkeeping issue for both the city and university. Issuing the refund check will clean that up, city officials said.

-- Agreed to meet in special session at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 2 to tie up loose ends on Stellar project-related items such as the contract for grant administrator and the contract for design work on the proposed downtown parking garage.

Mayor Murray and fellow Board of Works members Selvia and Thom Morris were joined for the monthly meeting at City Hall by City Attorney Laurie Hardwick, Water and Wastewater Superintendent Richard Hedge and City Clerk-Treasurer Lynda Dunbar.

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  • Now, while I am glad to see an infusion of funds into our community to address several areas of concern, I must raise a raucous about the cause for the need of these funds in the first place, as well as, voice a grievence as to where these funds are being directed.

    Over the past few years, I am sure I am not the only resident of our town or county to realize a steady increase in property tax. Now, I don't begrudge the taxes--shocking I know for our little red community, but I tend to see the necessity for such things and have not seemed to suffer the same congnative disconnect as many of my fellow Americans or Putnam County residents in thinking you can get something without paying for it. Taxes are the simple costs applied to our social contract. And they are a cost that is suppose to be shared (even by "job-creators"...but I'll address that subject in a later post).

    But shared they have not been. How many residential properties has Depauw constructed or revamped over the last decade? Quite a few, I would say. They've spread the breadth of the campus along several arteries of our town and in doing so provided countless students with a unique smalltown living experience. Good for Depauw. Good for these students. Good for the town...but wait! Does Depauw pay property taxes on these "homes?" No.

    Now, I'm not going to suggest that the full cost that the collection of these taxes on Depauw would match the grant funds or even negate their necessity completely, but I would suppose that such community projects could have been addressed throughout this past decade with that hypothetical tax revenue.

    And now, that we have been granted monies to address "community" concerns, are we? That doesn't seem to be the case either. We are suppose to be happy that Depauw is "matching" town expenses and "paying for Anderson St." (Sorry for the swear folks)Hell! They should be paying for this project themselves. This is a project that benefits them and their concerns. It provides them with a picture perfect post card that they can send to their alumni, as well as, a means to woo potential alumni.

    I have no distaste for Depauw. In fact, I know for certain that they add character and vibrancy to our community. However, while Depauw does add to our town, in this matter and in their deliquent civic behavior, I feel they are a blight.

    -- Posted by nerudap on Sun, Mar 25, 2012, at 9:41 PM
  • Can anyone tell me when the timeline for the stellar grant began? Was it when we received the grant, or does it start this year. I believe we only have three year for total completion.

    -- Posted by putcocvb on Mon, Mar 26, 2012, at 8:17 AM
  • Great for DePauw, sad thing, I knew DePauw would be first. Question, when does the downtown start and where? When does Manson's wall come down? When does the plywood fence come down!

    -- Posted by putcocvb on Mon, Mar 26, 2012, at 8:23 AM
  • Great to see work begin and glad to see that Bret Hurley Construction Greencastle will be doing some of the initial work. That's good because they are a local firm and those dollars will stay in our town.

    Good things are happening!

    -- Posted by thinkpositive on Mon, Mar 26, 2012, at 12:33 PM
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