The project, which would include adding a second left turn lane on both eastbound Parrish Lane going north and on northbound Main Street going east, will likely start construction in early 2013. The council voted 3-2 to go ahead with both phases, adding two conditions. They required that two extra feet be given back to the property owners rather than be held in case there’s future need for a median and that a member of the city council be involved in the compensation discussions a UDOT representative is having with the affected homeowners.
“Eminent domain is certainly something we don’t take lightly,” said Centerville City Councilman Justin Allen, who voted for the project. “I think UDOT and the city have been working hard to minimize the impact as much as possible, and I believe that going ahead with both phases is the financially responsible decision to make.”
Financial issues were cited by all three of the council members who voted for the project. The project has received $1.6 million from a combination of state and federal funding, which would have gone to another UDOT project had the council not used all of it for the intersection. If the city had decided to cancel the project in its entirety, UDOT said that they would have had to refund at least a portion of the $187,000 of the state and federal money that’s already been spent.
“If we don’t use our tax money, it will be spent by someone else,” said Centerville Mayor Ronald Russell, who expressed his approval for continuing with both phases of the project even though he didn’t vote.
Centerville Councilman Larry Wright, who voted against the project in its entirety, said that he could see the benefits of the project for the city. Newly appointed Centerville City Engineer Kevin Campbell said that the planned improvements should keep the intersection operating at capacity for the next 30 years, well after the city is expected to achieve build-out. The widening would also fix safety issues, including corners sharp enough that truck trailers will often drive over them when they attempt to turn.
Despite this, Wright said that he couldn’t vote against the strong public outcry against the project.
“There’s a lot of validity in moving forward with the project, but if people don’t want it, I don’t think it’s fair to force it on them,” he said. “It’s about the sentiment of the community. Right or wrong, it’s how people feel.”
The public comment allowed at the meeting was mostly against the project, which in its final form will take 9-and-a-half feet from the front yard of the historic Joel Parrish home and proportionately less from neighboring homes until the road tapers back into original position. Though the Joel Parrish home doesn’t have a historic fence that will be affected by the widening, a historic fence and retaining wall located at homes north of there will be moved as part of the agreement.
Some residents, however, aren’t mollified.
“We don’t want this, and we don’t know what do to as a community but stand here and repeat ourselves,” said Margaret Ihrig, one of the residents who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. “None of us want this.”
Though Centerville City Councilman John Higginson said he had spoken to residents in the northern part of the city who did approve the project, Wright and fellow dissenting council member Ken Averett felt that residents were largely against the project. Though he disagrees, even Russell understood.
“It’s designed to be beneficial to the whole community, but it has a very direct impact on a few people,” he said. “If I were one of them, I would be rallying everyone I know to come to city council and speak against it as well.”