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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Proposed State Street plans concern neighbors

  • A proposed $2.8 million project has some Geneseo residents concerned about the future aesthetics of their neighborhood.


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  • A proposed $2.8 million project has some Geneseo residents concerned about the future aesthetics of their neighborhood.
    In April of 2013, Geneseo officials plan to begin a complete reconstruction project of South?State Street.
    The project, which will encompass State Street portions south of Main Street/Route 6, will include new water mains, sanitary sewer mains and laterals and buried electricity and phone lines.
    New streets, sidewalks and driveway approaches also will be poured and new street lights will be installed.
    South State Street is one of the oldest sections in town and, in some places, the sewer lines are nearly a century old, said Geneseo’s public service superintendent Klint Rice.
    While residents who live along South?State Street say they’re in favor of replacing the street’s utilities, they’re opposed to the fact that trees will be removed for the project.
    “State Street is one of the most beautiful parts of town. What they want to do is just too drastic,” said resident LuAnn Lavine.
    The project will require major excavation of the area. For instance, water lines must be buried below the frost line, said Rice.
    The reconstruction will require all trees along the boulevard, and those located between the sidewalk and the street, to be removed.
    “Even if we could work around the trees — and that’s not something we can do — they’d all be dead in five or 10 years anyway because the work would be devastating to the root zone,” explained Rice. “We’d have to plant trees as they die, which would lead to a hodgepodge.”
    Instead, the city’s plan calls for the removal of all trees along the boulevard for the duration of the project. Once complete, the city will plant new trees along South State Street.
    “We’re talking about planting larger trees — trees that are four or five inches in diameter. The area would be beautiful in five or six years,” he said.
    But some residents disagree. “I think what they’re planning to do will wreck a nice city street,” said Dr. John?Loucks who lives on South State Street.
    “Those of us who live on South?State Street live in older homes. It’s never easy when you have an older home. It takes work to preserve what you have, and the easiest way to do something isn’t always the best. The city has to realize it’s the same way with older streets,” said Lavine.
    “I know the trees are the biggest issue on that street, but when the trees are put back in, they will be nicely spaced and symmetrical. It will be a beautiful boulevard,” said Rice.
    Reconstruction plans for the area also call for a widening of the street, with extra land taken from the boulevard in the center of the street and the street’s edges.
    Page 2 of 3 - “We realize this is a very sensitive topic. We want to make improvements on the street, and part of the improvement is the widening,” said Rice.
    “We plan to widen the street for safety reasons. There has to be parking on South?State Street, but if you look at it now, cars have to go into the boulevard itself to clear parked cars.”
    The city’s original plan called for removing four feet of land from the boulevard, but Rice said engineers are in the process of tweaking that plan.
    “We originally wanted to take land out of the boulevard and leave the original curb line where it is. The reasoning behind that is because, at the south end of the street, the area changes elevation drastically. If we leave the boulevard the same size and take land out on the homeowners’ sides of the street, we have to do a lot of grading and ground work on the south end, adding a lot to the cost of the project,” he said.
    Residents expressed concern that a wider State Street would result in cars traversing the road at higher rates of speed.
    “It will become a raceway,” said Loucks. “They don’t need to widen it.”
    Rice disagrees. “The added space is not designed to make the street faster. It’s designed to give people more room to park and get out of their cars. The speed limit won’t change.”
    In conversations with city officials, State Street residents say their road has been referred to as the “Gateway to Geneseo,” a label they oppose.
    “Oakwood Avenue is the Gateway to?Geneseo, not State Street,” said Lavine. “South State Street is a residential area and it needs to remain that way.”
    “South State Street isn’t going to become a highway. We will identify our truck route and prohibit truck traffic in that area,” said Rice.
    “But the truth is State Street is the road that goes from the south side of town to the north side. It’s a straight route to our high school. If you’re coming to Geneseo, and you punch a route in your GPS, it will lead you up State Street,” said Rice.
    Because it is a major artery in Geneseo, State Street is a federally designated FAU (Federal Aid Urban) road.
    As a result, the roadwork portion of the project will be paid for with an 80/20 split, with the federal government paying for 80 percent of the roadwork portion of the project and the city picking up the remaining tab.
    The $2.8 million price tag for the project includes road, water and sewer work, but not the electrical expense, said Rice.
    On Jan. 17, city officials hosted a neighborhood meeting to discuss plans for the street with residents in the South?State Street area.
    Page 3 of 3 - Rice said approximately 22 families of the 51 affected attended the meeting.
    “Our plan is to have another meeting with residents this summer and a third meeting closer to the 2013 project start date,” he said.
    Rice added he’s also available to meet one-on-one with any resident who has concerns or questions regarding the project. “I’m more than willing to talk with folks about this,” he said.
    Lavine and Loucks said neighbors who are opposed to the city’s plan to remove trees and widen the street have started a petition.
    Lavine said those interested in signing the petition are asked to contact her or stop by her business,?ReMax Hometown Advantage.
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