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Crews from CM Construction have started reconstructing Valley Centre Drive and Moraine Court in the Valley Centre local improvement district established by the City of Driggs.

Cost to area property owners not yet finalized

Only three years after talks began about establishing a local improvement district, the Valley Centre neighborhood of Driggs will see road and sidewalk construction starting this week, with an estimated time of completion at the end of September.

Moraine Court and Valley Centre Drive are private thoroughfares and came under city jurisdiction when the subdivisions in the Valley Centre area were annexed in 2008 and 2009. The roads are not up to city standards and haven’t been maintained by any kind of property owner’s association. Because the roads are now in a serious state of disrepair, in April 2018 the city council established a local improvement district in which each property owner pays a proportionate amount of the cost of the project.

Working with civil engineering firm Keller Associates, the staff and council whittled down the scope of the project until the cost came in under a million dollars. The council awarded the contract to CM Owen Construction for $804,517.

Demolition of the road surface is scheduled to begin July 10. The contract allows for 90 days but the contractor has stated that that’s a conservative number. Crews will work on only half of the road at a time to keep traffic flowing, and access to properties will be maintained.

The project includes full reconstruction of the roads, installation of concrete ribbon curbs, ADA ramps, sidewalks on both sides of Valley Centre Drive, and a sidewalk on the north side of Moraine Court. The canal culvert along the south side of Moraine will also be extended and enlarged.

Financing for the project has a 15-year term and an interest rate of 2.694 percent. The assessment roll hasn’t been finalized yet, meaning property owners don’t know exactly how much their LID bill will be, but there will be a public hearing in September or October after work has been completed. The first payment is due in Jan. 2020. Councilman Ralph Mossman said at last week’s meeting that he wanted to find an assessment method that spread the cost out more evenly, but community development manager Doug Self said that would increase the price tag for most property owners.

“Honestly I think everyone at this point is happy with the reduction in cost, with the financing term, and with the financing rate,” Self said. “There is a lot of positive feeling right now and I think trying to even out the assessment is not necessarily making it more fair for anyone, it’s just going to upset a whole lot of people.”

The city is one of the many stakeholders with property on the road and so will pay a percentage of the LID, estimated at around $150,000. That amount is still open to discussion, as some council members want the city to shoulder more of the cost.

Council members August Christensen and Mossman both lived on 5th Street when the city established an LID there over a decade ago and they admit to carrying baggage about LIDs because of that history. During the 5th and Ross road and sidewalk reconstruction, the scope of the project shrunk while the cost ballooned.

City attorney Stephen Zollinger, who also serves the City of Rexburg, said that in Rexburg, LIDs are common and that property owners often request that their streets are included in a project because the cost and interest rate are favorable.

“It’s a clamor every time we open up an LID, for people to join it. This is the most foreign concept that I’ve ever experienced in my legal career up here,” he said about some of the council’s antipathy toward LIDs.

Mayor Hyrum Johnson added that the city would probably see more LID proposals from citizens in the future. In May the council passed a resolution stating that the city would consider LIDs as one funding option for future capital projects. The resolution barely passed, with council members Erika Earles and Christensen in opposition. The mayor broke the tie with a vote of approval.

Any property owners in Valley Centre with concerns about construction should contact Self by emailing dself@driggsidaho.org or calling (208) 354-2362 ext. 2111.

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