Business owners object to Decorah street proposal - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Business owners object to Decorah street proposal


A street improvement project in Decorah that is getting some complaints from business owners.

The proposed street project is for Short St. for the section that runs between Mechanic St. and Highway 9.

CJ Lensing owns a car lot on Short St. in Decorah.

The city's proposal to widen the street, possibly adding a center turn lane, sidewalks and a bike path would be a waste of money.

"There's absolutely no reason for it. It's ridiculous. I've been here longer than any other property owner. 37 years. I know every traffic pattern. I know which way they go direction. There's no way a center turn lane would work here," said Lensing.

The Decorah City Council's Streets Committee will discuss plans for the street Tuesday night.

"Decorah is known for being cycle-friendly, pedestrian-friendly and those are options we need to look at in that corridor especially. There are wonderful commercial and retail businesses that deserve to have access via other modes of transportation," said city manager Chad Bird.

Business owners like Lensing say foot and bike traffic doesn't matter to them.

They also say they're worried about higher taxes and rumors of the city needing more land for the project than they already have.

"I was the first one to get a niche beautiful building built here and everything around here is built up and gorgeous. It's the prettiest end of town and now they want to take all this property out and ruin it for us," said Lensing.

City officials say none of the work would be done on private property owned by business owners. They say all of the area in question already is in the city's right-of-way.

"We had our engineer mark where the existing right-of-way is. I think there were a lot of surprises both from the city and the business owners but that doesn't mean the city would take all of it even though they could," said Bird.

Bird says it's up to the city council to approve whatever is done there and once that happens, construction could start sometime next year.

The city has already applied for a federal grant that would pay for the work.

If it doesn't come through, the city would still look at repaving the street.

Tuesday's meeting at 6:30 p.m. is open to the public, but the topic is not for public debate until the city council meets.

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