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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Freistatt Board pursues crosswalk plans

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Plans for a crosswalk across Highway H at the post office in Freistatt moved forward through discussion with officials from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) at the March meeting of the Freistatt village board.

Traffic engineer Dave Taylor and his colleague Jeremy Hagerman brought a sketched out version of what could be built, in response to last month's request from the board. Hagerman explained where curb-cut access ramps would have to be built at village expense. The one on the west side of the road would have to cover both the east-west and north-south sidewalks on the corner with the Farmers Exchange.

Usually, MoDOT does not install push-button flashers with pedes¬trian crosswalks, Hagerman said. With the school crosswalk nearby, he thought the northbound traffic would be slowed enough to get by without it. However, if the board insisted and would bear the costs, flashers could be added later.

Postmaster Jane Mattlage pointed out the site gets regular use by pedestrians, including as many as 20 senior citizens from the se¬nior housing each day. Passengers for a school bus gather and depart from there, and the forklift at the Farmers Exchange crosses the road regularly, making the need to slow traffic at times crucial.

Hagerman said MoDOT will usu¬ally insist on banning parking in the vicinity of a crosswalk to max¬imize visibility. The necessity of having parking by the post office took precedence over the ban. The MoDOT team received assurances that parking was short-term, posing no extended blockage.

Postmaster Mattlage raised a greater concern about storm water run-off. Mattlage said the sidewalk in front of the post office gets submerged by rain, including the crosswalk area. Mayor Roy Obermann said the site has had wa¬ter problems for at least 50 years and needs a drain

Taylor advised the board to be¬gin discussions with MoDOT's in¬spector and possibly an engineer to work out details. An ordinance would have to be passed that lim¬ited parking at the post office. MoDOT would install any lights, but the village would pay for them. Taylor said two flashing yellow light signals with a push button switch cost around $3,500, plus around $5,000 for the heavy equipment needed for the job.

Taylor said pedestrian acti¬vated crossing lights can give a false sense of security that traffic will actually stop. MoDOT pre¬ferred to try signs instead of lights. If the newness of signs wore off and traffic got faster again, lights could be used. If nothing worked, Taylor said a flashing red light could be installed at around $50,000, but MoDOT preferred try¬ing other options first. Board mem¬bers agreed to pursue the matter.

Trustee Bryan Painter reported Lawrence County deputies have been visit¬ing town regularly over the past month, in the morning and after¬noon, making themselves visible around the school. Their presence has helped deter speeding.

Clerk Deborah Schoen reported City Attorney Don Trotter still felt the village's practice of hiring con¬tract labor was good enough to get by without buying workers' com¬pensation insurance for police offi¬cers. Liability insurance would need to be in place first.

Marshal Kevin Davis learned the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department may retire a squad car that the village could buy. Mayor Obermann expressed reservations about that approach, preferring to hire off-duty officers and avoiding the issues of having a car alto¬gether.

Sewer connections

Following last month's discus¬sion over a travel trailer sewer connection on Dan Porter's prop¬erty, former mayor Elmer Conway investigated where the connection originated. Asking the current and previous public works employees, he found no one with the city had dug the connection or inspected it. Conway concluded Porter may have dug the connection himself and tapped into the city sewer without permission.

Under city ordinances, all sewer connections have to be inspected. Clerk Schoen said the rules with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program for running the city's wa¬ter and sewer system clearly states any illegal sewer connection dis¬covered must be disconnected. The board issued a work order to have Public Works Superintendent Charlie Ingram inspect the job and take the appropriate action.

Board members gave final pas¬sage to the proposal made last month granting an exception to Porter for having a sewer connec¬tion for a travel trailer on his property prior to passage of the new trailer park ordinance. Obermann said no public comment had been received since the matter was debated last month. If the con¬nection is deemed illegal, the status of the exemption may be in jeop¬ardy.

Assistance with utilities

A number of water system prob¬lems had backed up over the past month that needed immediate atten¬tion that Ingram was not able to provide. Trustee Mike Ortwein fixed one leak and replaced shut-off valves and meters. Called for extra help, Monett's Utility Department sent Galen Hall and Alan Obermann to fix another problem that required more re¬sources.

Schoen reported Monett Water Foreman Steve Roden said, "There is no charge for helping a commu¬nity neighbor." Trustees expressed their appreciation. Freistatt will pay for all the parts needed.

Landlord responsibilities

Following the debate last month with two landlords over paying water bills left by their renters, a new ordinance clearly defining the security deposits needed by land¬lords was introduced. The ordi¬nance was modeled after the one used by the city of Monett. Amounts owed by tenants and landlords, including a cap for own¬ers of multiple rental properties, were established.

Trustee Joyce Ness said she owns property in Kansas City and has to pay much higher rates. Ortwein saw the proposal as a way to keep the city from having to ab¬sorb future costs by renters. The proposal was tabled for study.

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