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Bumpy ride for Manawa road work

The city of Manawa is currently doing road construction on Factory Street. Emily Conroy Photo

Residents criticize street projects

By Emily Conroy

Road construction has begun for the 2024 season, with the city of Manawa beginning their work on Factory Street and Walnut streets.

Cedar Corporation started the projects on April 15 with tree removal.

The deteriorated condition of the streets is what led to the new construction, which will include some new driveways and driveway aprons.

Kristine Hein and her brother, Larry Hein, attended the April 15 city council meeting to voice their concerns over Cedar Corporation and the city changing the original plans for their property, which was a curb cut-out.

Their home is on a double lot and the cut-out would be to the empty lot, in order to gain access to the lot from the street.

Originally, Cedar Corporation and the city agreed, however after a further look into the ordinances for such a request it was found that an apron would be needed for erosion control.

An apron is the approach from the road to the sidewalk or driveway.

Josh Smith, director of Public Works for Manawa, said that not only would the apron need to be added for erosion, but also for a more uniform look with the rest of the neighborhood.

Kristine was confused as to what had changed, as she had signed off on the cut-out.

She said she made multiple phone calls to the city and to Josh Brown, the engineer from Cedar Corporation in charge of the projects.

“[Josh Brown] basically had to eat some crow, and say that ‘we had misspoke,’ it had been in the early planning phases and nothing had been finalized yet,” Smith said in reference to the changes that were made to the original plan.

Stephanie Flynn and her husband also attended the April 15 meeting to voice her disappointment in a maple tree being cut down in their yard.

She said she had not been aware that the tree was in the right of way, which is 33 feet from the center line of the road. Flynn had measured from the center line and the tree was 25 feet from the line, which is what led to the cutting down.

The tree was marked at 8 a.m. Monday, April 15 and by 11 a.m. the tree was cut down, Flynn said.

“This is a home that is 145 years old and we have gone great lengths to improve this home and this is what we are left with. I am still so upset,” Flynn said. “I know it’s not the city, I think it’s really your project manager didn’t convey what kind of work would be taking place on our property, and I even relayed to Mike [Frazier] I now have a big distrust for the city because I was not informed of absolutely nothing.”

Keeping residents informed

Smith said that the updated schedule arrived in his email shortly before the April 15 City Council meeting, and that it will be posted as soon as they can. Currently the updated schedule is posted on the city’s website.

Moving forward, Smith said, they are hoping to give a two-day notice, be it by knocking on doors or leaving notes for homeowners residing on Factory Street, along with the website posting, upcoming project happenings like when cars need to be moved.

Aaron Timm, a first ward alderperson on Manawa City Council, also said more needs to be done to communicate to residents what is happening with the construction project.

“The ball has been dropped completely, whether it’s the city of Manawa’s fault or Cedar Corp’s fault, the ball has been dropped and it’s rolling down the hill really fast,” Timm said.

Jim Roenz, a third ward alderperson on the city council, agrees.

“A lot of the principal damage has already been done and can’t be undone, but at least if you can try to, from this point on, let them know so no one ends up saying ‘I couldn’t get out to go to work because I didn’t know we were going to be blocked.’” Roenz said. “That’s really important, I know it’s a difficult task, but it’s a task that needs to be done.”

Walnut Street has also started its reconstruction. The street is going to be widened an additional 15 feet and a sidewalk will be added, Smith said. This project also ran into an issue.

When the city submitted the road project plans to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it was discovered that the west end of Walnut Street might be close to an Native American burial site.

In order to move forward with the project the city has to hire an archeologist to be on site during the digging, Smith said. This information has come down from the DNR and the Wisconsin Historical Society, he said.

Hass said the digging will be stopped if human remains are found.

An archeologist from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was approved at the April 15 meeting.

To find updates for the Factory and Walnut Street projects go to www.cityofmanawa.org.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified Larry Hein as Terry Hein.

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