City council rejects improving streets near Westside elementary school

WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 10:42 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Neighbors thought they’d finally found a compromise, a new way to pay for two awful streets that form an L around an elementary school.

The city council didn’t see it that way.

“It’s important to me because children’s safety is involved,” said Karen Wagner.

Neighbors and parents asked the city council for help Tuesday afternoon. Two streets boarding Loveland Elementary in the Westside district is a car repair shop’s dream.

“My concern is for the safety of pedestrians, lack of handicap accessibility, and the damage caused to vehicles because of the potholes,” said Carolyn Roeder.

A previous 6 On Your Side investigation highlighted the decades-old problems in September. Neighbors thought they had a workable solution.

The city would cover 60% instead of the usual 50%, so around $600,000. The adjacent landowners would kick in 10%, around $15,000 each, and the school district 30%.

“Without your help, it will be twice as much for the property owners. And I wouldn’t blame them if they dissolved it and then we’re back to zero,” said Ryan Palmer.

Omaha has hundreds of roads that look like this from Florence to Elkhorn, South Omaha to District 66.

A few years ago, the city didn’t pay a dime to bring an unimproved road up to standards and then decided that wasn’t the right way ago. In the end, the council rejected the agreement to fix the road by Loveland Elementary.

Because of the fairness.

After all, council members wondered what about the other neighborhoods where the city only pay half, not 60%.

“It can be clunky and frustrating and I wish we could support all of them 100%. Frankly, I think the city should be paying that. But the cost would be astonishing, around $300 million,” said Omaha City Council member Pete Festersen.

“I wholeheartedly support the city contribute to these roads and get these roads to city standards. Is there any way we can go back to those who paid 50% and give them back the extra 10%? I’m just thinking of the fairness and equity of what we’ve done,” said Omaha City Council member Aimee Melton.

For now, Ridgewood and Poppleton won’t see an upgrade. So what’s next?

Neighborhood leaders say it’s really in the hands of the landowners and the school board.

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