Council considers school district road proposal
April 4, 2019
At Monday’s regular meeting of the Moorcroft Town Council, Mayor Dick Claar asked the governing body to consider the request from Crook County School District #1 to “take over” a roadway the district is planning to build from Rail Road Street, traveling through the property south of the high school around the east side of the south parking lot and on to Country Lane.
Nelson Engineering’s Brent Bennett, who is acting in behalf of the district, has spoken extensively with Claar and Public Works Director Cory Allison, but has refused repeated invitations to address the governing body to answer questions.
Bennett, according to Claar, is asking the town to foot the application cost of $600 with a promise of reimbursement and apply to Burlington Northern, who actually owns Rail Road Avenue east of Little Horn Avenue, to build the southern access point.
“They would like us to dedicate this whole road with an easement up to Country Lane,” stated Claar. “I think we ought to do it. He’s willing to give us the easement and the whole works.”
The district would lay six inch deep concrete along the road and include the curb and gutter obligated by ordinance. While the mayor was enthusiastic with the possibility, his council brought forward a couple of important issues.
The council was provided with a hand-drawn map of the engineer’s planned route. After examining the sketched roadway, one of the issues immediately to hand was mentioned by Councilman Ben Glenn.
“HDR [Engineering] is our engineer and I don’t think we’d ever turn anything in with pen drawings on it so I would like to see something a little more concrete,” he said.
Councilman Owen Mathews expressed his concern about the tight wrap the path would take around the parking lot. While he voiced his willingness to discuss the ingress on Rail Road Avenue, “Drainage and things like that is good for the town to have.”
He was not as impressed with the 90-degree corners on the drawing, saying, “I have a hard time seeing us taking the other part of that road as it’s laid out.” Mathews also reminded his fellows that the road would have to be deeded to the town, not given as an easement.
Councilman Petersen strongly advocated that clarification, saying, “I am totally opposed to us taking it once it gets on school property.” He too disapproved of the proposed corners, adding, “It’s not a clean flow up to Country Lane and you cannot go far enough off to the east to connect the way it probably should be done.”
Councilman Ben Glenn asked the mayor if the school district is aware of exactly what making this roadway public means. “Any traffic that wants to run through there can run through there,” he said. Any vehicle, including semi tractor trailers will be able to travel that bypass.
Considering the possible benefit to the town by investing in the upkeep of this proposed street, Mathews asked, “What is the advantage to the people of the town for us to take on that cost and responsibility?”
Glenn answered, reminding the body that about three years ago, they had discussed “putting a loop down that south side with the water line”. He proposed getting more integral people involved, “Then if we do take a deeded piece through there, we can run our ten-inch loop down and around with our water. At one point that was in our master plan.”
Councilman Paul Smoot opined that, while he is not opposed to the road, “There’s a good reason why they want to turn it over to us and that’s because of the maintenance of that road.” The town already sands the high school parking lot and started sanding for the elementary this winter when they were approached by the school to do so.
Paying attention to the unease of his council, Claar asked Town Clerk Cheryl Schneider to invite Bennett to the next meeting. “Tell him it’s not going anywhere until he shows up,” he said.