A portion of 13th Avenue, a deteriorating street that spans Maywood and Broadview. | Google Maps.
Thursday, May 12, 2016 || By Michael Romain
At a May 11 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees discussed the possibility of finally repairing long-neglected 13th Avenue, which spans Maywood and Broadview.
During budget talks last month, the board directed that $200,000 be set-aside within the village’s rainy day fund as a sign of commitment to completing the project in the future. The funds were allocated at the insistence of Trustee Michael Rogers, who said he’d been in communication with Broadview officials about the repairs.
The shared roadway has long been a source of headaches for area drivers and residents of both towns, but the prospect of fixing the potholed street has never been more than a glimmer of hope since it would require that both towns chip in financially and at the same time.
Broadview officials say they’ve been primed to contribute on their end, but Maywood hasn’t been in the financial position to contribute on its part.
Last April, David Myers, then Maywood’s acting village manager, said that Broadview can pay its share with federally subsidized grant money meant to fund community development projects in low-income areas. Maywood doesn’t qualify for the funds, since its residents who live in the project area don’t qualify as low-income.
At the time, Myers estimated that 13th Avenue repairs would cost about $833,000, with each village contributing half, or $416,500 each. Former Maywood Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross, however, said that Myers’s estimated didn’t take into account the increased cost of materials, which would bump the total cost up to $920,000.
At Wednesday’s meeting, however, Mark Lucas — who provides engineering services for both Maywood and Bellwood — projected that it would cost $689,000 to repair 13th Avenue in the “traditional” way — which would include fixing curbs and gutters, catch basins, drainage systems and other repairs.
Since Maywood has more work to do on its side of the street, Lucas said the village would contribute $389,000, slightly more than Broadview’s $301,000.
Lucas said a cheaper alternative, which could regain seven to 10 years of the street’s usefulness, would be to re-mill and resurface the road at a cost of $353,000, with Maywood paying $189,000 and Broadview paying $164,000.
“Every long journey starts with a first step,” said Rogers, referencing the $200,000 commitment. “It’s important to take the first step and put our money where our mouths are.”
In an interview Thursday, Broadview Mayor Sherman Jones said his village is in the position to fund the repairs, but have been waiting on Maywood to shore up its financing. He said Broadview would need a concrete indication from Maywood that the village is willing to fund its half.
“We’ve been trying to get this done since 2010,” Jones said. “Each time, Maywood has said they don’t have the money to do it.”
Jones said he was heartened by the board’s commitment, but that he would like to see hard documentation, such as in the form of a letter or approved ordinance.
“We need to verify that they’ve got the funds,” he said.
During Wednesday’s LLOC meeting, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins expressed her disagreement with the $200,000 rainy day set-aside.
Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., said the village has about $1.5 million in its rainy day fund, which is a reserved pool of funds to be used when regular operating income has been depleted. Lanya Satchell, the village’s finance director, noted that the village nonetheless owes money to the fund and isn’t current with its payments.
“If we have not repaid the rainy day fund why are we trying to borrow from it? The rainy day fund is a rainy day fund, it is not a bank,” said Perkins. “It is not to go reach and get it when you want to. If you borrow from it you’re supposed to pay it back. According to our minutes, we have setup a payment plan and that payment plan should be followed.”
Rogers responded that the source of the dedicated funds aren’t as important as the board’s commitment to funding the street’s repair, which he said has been long overdue.
“There are people who live on both sides of that street who deserve to have better conditions than this,” he said.
“We can find the dollars … different ways, including the declaration of surplus from the St. Charles TIF that retired. There are ways it can be financed. The commitment needs to be to get it done. That’s the central issue.”
Trustee Henderson Yarbrough noted that the board wasn’t making a hard commitment to spend the money, but to show “our good intentions” and “good faith.”
Maywood village attorney Michael Jurusik said that the board doesn’t need to take any formal action, such as preparing an amendment to its fiscal policy, if the $200,000 set-aside is only a signal to show Broadview that it’s prepared.
“It’s a marker,” said Norfleet, adding that when the two towns are ready to formally pursue repairs, then an official decision will be made on the source of the funding. VFP
U P C O M I N G E V E N T S
Safe Summer art contest for grades 6th through 8th
A press conference to announce the launch of this year’s Safe Summer program will be held outside of 125 S. 5thAvenue on Saturday, May 14, 2 p.m. To access more information on the art contest, or the form to fill out, click the document above or click here.