Nevada Mayor writes letter to the DOT, Council agrees to send it

Marlys Barker

Nevada’s mayor has penned a letter that City Council members were asked to look at before it is sent to the Department of Transportation. City Administrator Elizabeth Hansen suggested that the letter be sent to all DOT directors, commissioners and the district engineer.

The letter basically urges recipients for their assistance in the important highway project that the city of Nevada must undertake. It informs them that a previous plan was recently rejected by the city of Nevada after months of public meetings, review and public comments. It asks that the city of Nevada, the Nevada Economic Development Council, Story County and the Union Pacific Railroad join together to come up with alternative options for the DOT to consider.

The letter closes with the assurance that all entities still want to preserve the Highway 30 corridor and are concerned for the safety of travellers along that corridor, and requests that the process of coming up with a better solution be “accelerated.”

As the council reviewed the letter Monday, Councilman Jim Walker thought that maybe the city should indicate that it has a retreat coming up in April and would like to have some feedback by that time to consider.

Councilman Ray Schwichtenberg said he hopes the letter might open the door for discussion, but said the city may need to send a follow-up letter inviting the DOT and others to be part of the task force that is formed to find solutions for the Highway 30 corridor project at Nevada.

As several commented that the county, not just the city, needs to be involved in the discissions, Randy Collings, who lives in the rural area as a farmer impacted by the Highway 30 project, took the podium. Collings said several people, including Nevada businessmen Charlie Good and Al Kockler, have already been part of the discussion. And it has been suggested to those who have been part that Paul Toot, Story County supervisor from Nevada, would be a good addition to the task force. “My vision is involving the city, the county, area farmers and area businesses…that are directly affected,” Collings said. He wants to see the group put something up on a white board and list the plusses and minuses of each possible plan. Collings also indicated that the group has talked to a retired DOT engineer who could provide input as far as if any of the plans “pass muster,” he said.

Mayor Lynn Lathrop said it’s good to have a well-rounded representation on the group, but he advised against making the group so big that they can’t get anything done. Hanson agreed, adding “…let’s not get 30 people on that board … or we’ll never figure it out.”

Collings said the most important thing to him is that the task force is proactive and comes up with a plan that hopefully allows everyone to reach the end goal.

The council agreed with the letter that was prepared, and agreed that it be sent.

In other business, the council swore in the three recently elected council people: Brett Barker to the at-large seat, Barb Mittman to the Ward I seat and Jim Walker to the Ward 3 seat. These people will begin their newly elected positions on the council when it meets again this January.