The Fairview Heights City Council on Tuesday approved an $80,900 contract with an engineering company to address flooding issues in the Ogles Creek subdivision.
Ward 5 Alderwoman Sandy Baldwin voted present. Ward 5 Alderwoman Bonnie Crossley and Ward 3 Alderwoman Pat Baeske both voted against the resolution, citing concerns that while Ogles Creek does need work to alleviate drainage issues, the neighborhood does not need a new bridge.
"I'm in favor of the channel improvements, but I'm not sure I'm in favor of the bridge," Baldwin said.
Crossley told the city council that the city has spent $6 million alleviating drainage and flooding issues over the past several years.
"There are other neighborhoods in the city that have drainage problems," she said. "There is no flooding back there and we have already dealt with this. They say it is a safety concern, but city should not spend this kind of money to build a bridge for the convenience of the residents there."
Baeske said the city could have avoided spending as much as it has so far by purchasing several properties in the neighborhood years ago for about $500,000. But, not all residents wanted to sell and the City Council did not want to use eminent domain to force them out of their homes.
"This is truly pork barrel legislation by piling all the spending in this one ward," Baeske said. "
The engineering contract with Fairview Heights company Hoelscher Engineering, Inc. covers only the expenses of the company to conduct professional engineering services for a new bridge at Richmond Drive as well as road improvements from Lexington Drive to Fairfield Drive, and improvements on Ogles Creek from Hampton Drive past Richmond Drive. It does not cover the costs of any future construction work.
Ward 4 Alderwoman Carol Warner asked the council to vote in favor of the engineering contract for the Ogles Creek subdivision despite the misgivings of a few council members over the money already spent there.
"No other neighborhood in the city has the drainage problems this neighborhood has," Warner said. "It is a nightmare situation. The people who live there really have a major problem. Almost everything in the city drains through there. It has taken a lot of money because it's a mammoth problem and people back there suffer."
In other business, the new interim city administrator, Stephen Rasmussen, addressed the council and told them what his priorities have been since being appointed to the position at the last City Council meeting.
He said he has already begun the process for searching for a new city administrator and is working to also update employee performance reviews and conduct personnel policy updates.
He passed out a timeline to council members and citizens attending the meeting to outline his plan of action for finding and hiring a new city administrator.
"It's a long process and will take all the time we have, so, it starts now," he said.
His goal is to have a new city administrator selected, appointed, and ready to start by May 21.
Council members also passed a resolution giving the city permission to enter into a contract with Wisper ISP. The company is contracted for $98,630 to install surveillance cameras at city park properties and provide wireless and video technical support for the cameras.