City council considers capital improvements at workshop

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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Lincoln City Council members reviewed a list of current capital improvement projects Tuesday as part of the city's ongoing budget process. Though Tuesday's meeting focused on getting feedback from the council, future meetings will become more detailed as the budget deadline approaches, said Steve Ambrose, the city's finance and administrative services director. This one is more of an update, Ambrose said. Council gives us general direction on what is finishing this year and what is going into next fiscal year. Some (projects) are ongoing and will carry into next year. Airport manager Dave Daly reported on scheduled improvements, including an arrival and departure building currently in the design process. Daly said Lincoln has so far been unsuccessful securing a grant from FAA for the building, though he said the city will lobby for help in Washington D.C. at this year's Cap-to-Cap trip. Money has also been budgeted to update the existing fuel storage system “ switching from underground to above-ground tanks, which would be safer and cheaper than the original, Daly said. This spring, the city plans to go to bid on a project to build city-owned hangars. Though Daly said it would be a few years before the endeavor turns profitable, in the long term I think it will be a very good moneymaker for the airport fund, he said. Several ongoing improvements on the list were related to the future Highway 65 bypass. For instance, getting from the bypass to the airport will require improvements to Nelson Lane, said public works director John Pedri. I think we need to sit down with the county and really start pushing that, Pedri said. Nicolaus (Road) will be an overpass, not an interchange. Other ongoing endeavors include pre-design and environmental documents for another bypass-related project, the Ferrari Ranch Road interchange, as well for backup water supply wells, storage tanks at the city pond, an NID water treatment plant, and expanding the wastewater treatment and reclamation facility. Council members considered reevaluating park priorities, particularly in Lincoln Crossing, where Nathan Dubin and Robert Jimenez parks have been placed on hold. Do we spend the money next fiscal year on phase two for Scheiber Park (as planned) when we haven't started phase one for the other facilities? Pedri asked. Pedri suggested omitting a pedestrian bridge that would have crossed Highway 193. Heavy flooding and higher than anticipated costs made prior plans unrealistic, he said. Instead, funds could carry over to a bridge to carry pedestrians, bikes, and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles from the future Ferrari Pavilion retail center to the new post office. Future budget workshops are scheduled in May. Adoption of the final budget by city council is slated for June 24. We've been at this process for five, six, seven years now, and we're refining it as we go along, said Mayor Primo Santini. I think we've done pretty well in light of the fact that we're coming to the end of a building period and haven't started the next one yet.