BAXTER -- Residents of Inglewood Drive met in force at the Baxter City Council meeting Tuesday to protest the city's planned street and utilities project.
About 60 Inglewood Drive residents attended the meeting. Inglewood resident Gary Walters, a former Baxter mayoral candidate, spoke on behalf of the Inglewood residents.
Reading from a prepared statement, Walters presented the city council with several objections to the project, including how the project was presented at a Sept. 6 public hearing, the $15,000 per-resident average assessment the project would cost Inglewood residents, the proposed three-lane road size that would cut into yards and a bike path which would take more land.
Walters said Inglewood residents would like to work with the city council on a compromise, but added they would fight anything deemed unfair, going to court if needed.
"This is not a threat and we are not trying to scare you. We are just stating a fact that we cannot just quietly sit by as you wrongly change our lives," Walters read from his statement. "We ask (the city council) to remember the individuals who already live here and not get caught up in growing our city at a cost that is too high for us as individuals."
Walters also said the improvements were being pushed to benefit surrounding housing developments, most noticeably the JMS project on Excelsior Drive.
Members of the city council defended the project and denied the fact that it was being rushed through in order to aid developers.
"I know the developers are getting a lot of blame, but I'm not going to blame them," for the improvement project, said council member Darrel Olson. "They should pay their fair share."
However, council members did agree that the information was presented quickly at the public hearing and there could be undo hardships brought on by the project.
In a unanimous vote, the city council decided to review the Inglewood Drive project at a 7 p.m. Oct. 18 workshop.
"The project needs to go through," said council member Mary Marana. "We have to be fair to the whole city, including you, and sometimes that's hard. We can't make everybody 100 percent happy, it just doesn't work, but we can't keep delaying the project."
Walters presented several residents' options to the council, including a narrower street, stop signs to slow traffic and stop the use of Inglewood as a Highway 371 bypass.
With several street and utility projects being proposed in Baxter, council member Mark Cross said workshops should be held concerning all projects after the public hearings in order for the city council to digest not only the city's proposed work but the residents concerns.
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