School seeks city’s help with expansion ‘concept’

Preliminary drawings of the expansion for Tekamah-Herman Schools include moving the west half of the M Street intersection with Highway 75 to the south. The street then angles to the west, rejoining the current street near the student parking area.

Tekamah-Herman Schools has been working for more than a year to develop plans for what is known as the South Campus—the property it owns facing 13th St. in the block south of M.

School officials now say they need the city’s help in developing a proposal.

Superintendent Dan Gross, members of the school board and Bob Soukup—an architect with Carlson West Povandra—approached Tekamah City Council Thursday night with an idea, an idea that calls for rerouting M St.

The intent is to build additional classroom space and other facilities into where the street is now, then cut through the South Campus block, creating either a simple route for emergency vehicles or, at best, a different path for the street.

The school board has not approved any plans for construction. Gross said the intent Thursday was to present one concept, the one the school district thinks will work the best, and try to make the pieces fit.

He stressed that the idea is in extremely preliminary stages.

Because the concept is in its infancy, Gross said, the decision on the street’s status is a negotiable point, something planners can work around. He said all of the property needed to make the move has not yet been acquired, but attempting to acquire it won’t be necessary if the city won’t allow the street to be moved.

“There are a lot of things that have to come together to make this work, but if we can’t do this, we can’t do any of the others,” he said of the request to move the street. “We’ve worked really hard not to put the cart in front of the horse, but we kind of are. If we can’t get your permission, we can’t move forward.”

They got it. The council unanimously approved rerouting M St. and the utilities under the current street.

Original drawings show the proposed street move starting about 30 feet south of where the intersection is now and angling back to the west, rejoining the current street roughly at the student parking area next to Tekamah Creek. All the property south of the proposed new intersection at 13th would be used as parking.

Maintaining the relocated street as a fire lane, usable by emergency vehicles only, would mean closing the street from 13th to 15th.

City officials would rather see the street stay open, maintaining a thoroughfare which sees nearly as much traffic as either highway 32 or 75. Keeping it a through street also would lift maintenance concerns, such as snow removal, from the school and keep it with the city.

It also would mean widening the space needed for the street in order to meet state design standards. Soukup said the State of Nebraska has no input on where a city puts its streets and that from a student safety standpoint, it is better to close the street to reduce traffic in the area.

But that means moving that traffic somewhere else, and that was a concern for council members. The street already sees a fair amount of truck traffic from vehicles that miss the intersection with Highway 32. M Street also serves as a detour when the bridges on L St., Highway 32 leading west out of town, are out of service either for repair or in the event of an emergency.

Council member Gary Anderson said maintaining the route as a fire lane would see drivers sneaking through the route anyway.

Council member Kelly Adamson agreed.

“It should just as well be a street,” she said. “If it can keep some flow ... I think it’s a good plan.”

In other business Nov. 14, the council:

—Set a public hearing for the purchase of the Tiger Bowl property.

The meeting will be held Dec. 17 at Chatt Community Center, starting at 7 p.m. The council wants to use the site for a new city office.

Following the hearing, barring the submission of a petition to force a public vote on the matter, the council can vote to approve the purchase.

After a brief public hearing Thursday night, gave formal approval to the $10,000 purchase of a strip of land adjacent to the city’s street shop.

—Approved applying to host two Rural Futures Institute Fellows this summer.

The fellows, students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, would augment their city planning education through hands-on learning at the municipal level. The students would perform a variety of duties, including assisting in the development of improvement plans throughout the city, such as planning for future projects and writing grants for more current ones. They also are required to perform 10 hours of community service during their stay in the city.

The internship runs from May 24 through Aug. 1. Fellows would be paid $12,000 for their work but are not eligible for city benefits. The city also would have to provide housing, either through host families or through other arrangements, and office space.

Further details will be addressed if the city is accepted by the university as a host site.

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