Rapp Road fixes, splash feature in Talent budget

TALENT — Two improvements that citizens have asked for — a splash pad and upgrades to a busy road — are included in the city's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14, although work on them is unlikely this year.

Residents on Rapp Road have expressed concerns for pedestrians, especially schoolchildren, who use the street, which has no sidewalks for much of its length. The proposed budget includes $103,500 for engineering on what will be a multimillion-dollar project in later years.

If you go

What: Public hearing on budget

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19

Where: Community Center, 206 E. Main St.

A survey of city parks users found a splash pad was the most desired park amenity, so $26,000 was included in the budget to install one in Chuck Roberts Park.

A public hearing on the budget will be held during the Wednesday, June 19, City Council session, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Center, 206 E. Main St. The Budget Committee has approved the plan.

"There are no cuts to personnel, there are no rate increases," said City Manager Tom Corrigan. "We can do both "¦ and still do projects. You have to scrimp and save."

The proposed budget totals $10,883,114. The current budget is $8,472,829. Much of the increase comes from capital construction, which would cost $2,947,346 compared with $1,143,108 in the current budget. A federal grant for $1.5 million to construct a new community center boosts the total, along with funds for two major road projects.

One of those projects is on Front Street, which is set for $229,085 in improvements, including water lines, paving, storm drains and a 5-foot-wide, nonmotorized path that pedestrians and cyclists would be able to use to access ball fields at the north end of the street at Colver Road.

The other is on Lithia Way, which is budgeted for $160,600 in work that would include paving, new water lines and storm-drain improvement.

Money for the street projects come from dedicated funds set aside for transportation, storm drain, water line and street improvements.

Personnel costs are up $199,600 over the current year to $2,337,000. Two part-time poisons have been increased to full time.

A community development assistant position will be increased to deal with greater demand. After averaging 14 residential building permits per year from 2008 through 2011, 27 were issued last year and 13 were issued through early April this year.

"We want citizens to be able to have access, to offer them a lot of hours," said Corrigan.

A computer technician position will be increased to full time and will serve all departments.

Construction of the Community Development Block Grant-funded community center will probably begin next March or April and be finished in the summer, said Corrigan.

The location and design of the splash pad will need to be finalized and bids sought for equipment before construction can begin. City crews will perform much of the installation work.

Rapp Road improvements could include an upgraded railroad crossing, sidewalks, bike lanes, repaving and improvement or replacement of a bridge over Wagner Creek. Jackson County has turned the road over to the city, but agreed to help with costs of improving the bridge.

Rapp is bordered on one side by county jurisdiction and on the other by the city. City officials have requested a state speed review of the road, which is posted for 40 mph in some areas.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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