Granite Shoals opens new wildlife viewing station, Sunday in Quarry Park



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A grand opening of the new Granite Shoals Wildlife Viewing Station will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 30.
The announcement was made at the April 11 meeting of the Granite Shoals City Council.
“This is the newest feature for Quarry Park,” said City Manager Ken Nickel. “It is similar to one at Inks Lake State Park. It was all at their expense.”
Directional signs will lead walkers to the station, just steps off the Leo Manzano Hike Bike & Run Trail. The trail begins near the entrance to city hall and 2221 North Phillips Ranch Road. Viewers will be able to observe and photograph birds and other wildlife at a small pond.

Also at the council meeting:
The city got a clean bill of financial health from auditor Louis Breedlove. He represented BrooksCardiel, independent auditors for the city's 2015-2016 city budget audit.
“This is an 'unmodified opinion,” said Breedlove. “It is the highest level we are able to provide.”
He praised city staff for their financial practices and noted the rising fund balance on the bottom line.
“We want to see that grow from about 70 days operating expenses to 90 days, but it is much better than it was just a few years ago,” said Nickel.

Council likely to return to voters on street issue
A wide-ranging discussion of possibilities for a street project began with Richard Donoghue, a bond attorney with McCall, Parkhurst and Horton.
“the city in November 2016, held a bond election and  $3 million in bonds were approved by the voters,” he said. You are aware that a matching grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not materialize.”
Called in because the council is considering going back to voters in November to reaffirm their vote, Donoghue said the council had no legal requirement to issue the bonds but no mention of a USDA match was included in the ballot language and voters have given their approval.
“It is up to you,” he said. “It is an unusual situation because a council usually does not go back to voters when they have legal authority to issue bonds.”.
One citizen stood to report she voted for the bonds with no consideration of USDA funds, only a desire to see streets repaired.
Nonetheless, council members have struggled with how to proceed. The discussion of road repair has been going on for years and a $3 million project was the first target in planning. That plan was happily expanded when the city was led to believe it qualified for a 55 percent match. In their own minds, council members were angling for a base-up rebuild of the city's three major thoroughfares.
Greg Haley, PE, of KC Engineering was on the agenda as well to re-focus on how far down the road projects $3 million could go. He has prepared preliminary plans as the scope ranged from $3 million to exceed $6 million with a match. He was cautiously optimistic about achieving a project that involves all three roads that could be done by the end of 2018, but recommended geotechnic studies to be sure of what would be needed.
“First, you have to be sure you can do it,” he said.
Council members clearly still wrestle with priorities, since some voters were strong on a project from beginning to end of Valley View Lane, Prairie Creek Road and Phillips Ranch Road. Others were strong on safety, particularly on Phillips Ranch Road where at least one fatality has occurred as it curves twice on its way into the city, a problem with right of way acquisition problems.
Still other voters had urged drainage repair. 
“We talked about drainage,” said Haley. “This ($3 million) project is not going to solve our problems in the heaviest rain. The curb and gutter solution alone would be $2 million.
“The city, without doubt has the legal authority to issue the bonds,” said Council Member Jim Davant. “But we lack the moral authority because of the USDA issue.”
“We really did tell the public we were going to find matching funds,” said Mayor Carl Brugger, agreeing that a new November election should proceed.  “But we want it simple, direct. We want voters to confirm using the $3 million going forward with the roads.
In that light the council concurred that road money in the current road fund would be used for studies to confirm the kind of work that could be done to be presented in a pre-election town hall meeting and other voter education efforts.

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