By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
A number of observers at the February 14, 2017, Mill Creek City Council meeting were disappointed no decision was made to retrofit contested chip seal pavement preservation projects in the Wildflower and Mill Park neighborhoods.
As City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto said at the meeting, the decision is complicated by the fact that since 2012 about 60,000 square yards of chip seal treatments have been applied to city streets.
She observed that it’s important to treat all neighborhoods equitably, so if the city council decides to begin retrofitting chip seal with asphalt overlays the total price tag could run as high as $2 million.
Polizzotto said, “I think it’s important in your deliberations that the council consider a policy and or procedure for how to deal with all requests of this manner… We want to avoid to be arbitrary or capricious.”
She said that although there were quality issues especially with the Wildflower chip seal application, “at the heart of the matter” the issue is with the chip seal preservation method itself. She would like to see a citywide policy that addresses all residents equally.
In order to be ready if the city council decides to retrofit some neighborhoods this summer, Public Works Director Scott Smith put Wildflower, Mill Park Village, and 26th Avenue SE in Heatherwood West on Snohomish County’s road project list. He said that it’s easier to take projects off the list than to add them on at a later date.
According to Polizzotto, Mill Creek’s 2017-2018 Biennial Budget doesn’t include any expenditure for pavement preservation, concrete preservation, or stormwater system maintenance, so it’s not a simple matter of reprioritizing road projects to pay for the retrofit.
Polizzotto, Smith, and Finance Director Peggy Lauerman are in the process of reviewing Mill Creek’s Capital Improvement Program “that identifies needs, projects, priorities and funding options for pavement preservation, concrete replacement and vehicle/equipment replacement.”
Polizzotto said that even with this reduced spending, the capital fund balance normally allocated to road projects is only projected to be $2.3 million at the end of 2018.
She said that retrofitting chip seal throughout the city would decimate these funds and leave nothing for repairing Mill Creek’s sidewalks or stormwater systems.
At the February 14th city council meeting Mayor Pam Pruitt said that they hope to make a final decision sometime before the end of March.