Orion Village Board looks toward reconstruction of Fifth Street

Mindy Carls

Working out the financing will be a challenge, but someday Orion could have a Fifth Street that is straight, with angle and parallel parking where needed, and sidewalks, too, and all ADA compliant, Orion village board members learned on Monday, Aug. 1.

J.D. Schulte and Jon Clark of Hutchison Engineering presented preliminary plans for 11th Avenue to 15th Avenue to the board. The plans will be on display at village hall and available on the village's website, orionil.org.

Reconstructing Fifth Street would be the largest street project in Orion history, Village President Jim Cooper said.

One prominent new feature would be bumpouts, which extend the curb into the street and curve around back to the sidewalk. Bumpouts slow traffic and shorten the time pedestrians are in the intersection.

Street Superintendent Neil Dahl said bumpouts will make it harder to plow snow, but he'll be retired before that's a problem for him. Clark said snow can be stored on bumpouts.

Sidewalks will be on one side of the street, he said. The goal is to encourage people to walk or ride a bike instead of jumping in a car to go a couple of blocks.

This isn't going to happen in the near future.

"Unless we get a grant, this is years away," said Trustee Steve Newman. "We have five years left on the Seventh Street loan."

Schulte and Clark are working on a spreadsheet to show what the village should spend each year to maintain its streets, sewers and water, and when the village might be able to afford new projects.

The board heard from Amber Wood about drainage problems in the 1200 block of 13th Avenue. She has two sump pumps and has waterproofed her basement to try to keep water out. After investing lots of money, she is hoping the village can help.

Cooper said the home is below street level in a natural waterway that runs through the town. Trying to change the flow of water in one neighborhood affects homeowners farther downstream in the "Orion River."

The village president said the next time there is a heavy rain, he and a couple of board members will look at her neighborhood and other problem areas.

The village can't afford to build a foolproof drainage system, Dahl said.

"A 100-year rain is now this year's rain," he said.

Ron Belton, in the 1000 block of 12th Avenue, has a hole that the village can fill with broken concrete from old sidewalks, Dahl said. The riprap will slow down the flow of water and keep the hole from getting worse.

The village will be surveying property owners to determine if Orion has any lead lines connecting buildings to mains. Water superintendent Arnie Sandberg said if the village receives a grant, it can help homeowners replace lead lines.

Orion residents can bring landscape waste (except for grass) to the burn site on Fourth Street from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, and 1 to 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29.