By MADELYN FAIRBANKS
Published June 13, 2012
City road project doesn’t sit well with school district
MONROE - The citizens of Monroe put their right to a public hearing to good use at the June 5 City Council meeting, making it clear that those who were present are staunchly opposed to a large-scale, obtrusive road project that will likely be adopted at this week’s council meeting as part of the city’s six-year transportation improvement program.
The transportation improvement program, or TIP, is a list of projects that is adopted annually, each with the objective to make the flow of traffic smoother and more efficient.
Of the 14 projects laid out in the plan, the item in question — once named the “Hill Street Extension,” now named the “East-West Connector South of U.S. 2” — dictates that a road would cut through about six acres of Monroe School District property, causing massive disruptions and loss of valuable school land. The road would cut across Monroe High School’s current baseball field and middle school track.
Disruptions include the loss of a track, a varsity baseball field, a utility
baseball field, a play space for kids from the Sky Valley Education Center, as well as the loss of the district’s invaluable ability to allow for future growth, according to a school district document.
City staff suggested the district sell the remaining property left over from the road connection to fund replacement fields at Monroe High School for the ones that would be lost, but several members of the community failed to see this pro outweighing the hefty pile of cons.
“Can you imagine the Bearcats playing in Sultan instead of Monroe? Really, people?” asked Nancy Pierce incredulously, referring to the fact that both the high school and middle school would be forced to play on unfamiliar fields during the interim.
Pierce, who is a school board member but spoke at the City Council meeting as a concerned citizen, worried that such replacement construction would take nearly two years to finish the fields, making some of the high school sports teams temporarily homeless.
“Let’s not let developers decide the future of our town,” Pierce said.
Public works director Brad Feilberg, however, doesn’t see any reason to panic.
“This is just a concept, a planning exercise,” Feilberg said. “There needs to be an east-west connector, but there’s no money to build it right now, so it’s not starting anytime soon.”
More importantly, the land in question is still owned by other entities, and the city will need to enter into lengthy negotiations in order to purchase it from the school district, St. Mary’s Church, and several additional private property owners, Feilberg said.