North Bend Eagle



Annexation, fluoridation, brick streets topics at Council meeting

by Nathan Arneal
posted 5/30/08

After another discussion at its May 20 meeting, the North Bend City Council looks poised to begin a slow and deliberate annexation process of the lake areas southwest of town.

While all four councilmembers responded in the affirmative when Mayor Karan Legler asked them individually if they supported moving forward with annexation, there was some debate as to which areas should be included.
Everyone was in agreement that Pioneer Lakes, a housing development south of the North Bend golf course, should be included. Support for the annexation of two other areas between North Bend and the Platte River, Willow Wood Lakes and Leisure Lakes, was not unanimous.

Councilman Al Wochnick said he wants to see all three areas annexed.
“I’m still a firm believer that the best thing is to take (Highway) 79 to the river and head west to the end of the Pioneer Lakes development.”
Councilman Mark Johnson said he is not yet convinced that Willow Wood and Leisure Lakes should be included in any annexation plans.

“I can see (annexing) Pioneer Lake,” Johnson said. “I think that’s reasonable. That’s a planned community, and I think those people would be more amenable to being annexed. Those other two places are old cabin camps that have been there since the turn of the century.”

Another issue would be the wells and septic tanks installed on the lake lots, many of which do not meet city requirements. Wochnick said existing wells and septic systems would be grandfathered in. Other councilmen were not so excited about grandfathering such a large area when the Council has worked hard to get everyone else in North Bend to comply with city ordinances. City Clerk Theresa Busse pointed out that if one of the wells went bad, the owner would not be able to replace it or dig a new one without conforming to city regulations. The closed gate at the entrance to Pioneer Lakes would also have to be removed once the road it blocks becomes a city street.

The annexation process could be done in as quickly as three months, although everyone on the Council agreed that they should take it much slower. Wochnick suggested setting a goal of having the process completed in time for the new residents to participate in the 2010 city elections.

“I think we need to move in baby steps on this,” Johnson said. “We’ve never done an annexation before. I’d like to have enough time to go over this and get some input from the people living out there.”
The rest of the Council concurred with Johnson’s sentiments. Legler said the city will send a letter to the residents of the areas in question to notify them of the city’s intentions and ask for their feedback.

Brick section of 10th street

10th street, shown above, is one of two North Bend streets paved with bricks. However, some of the bricks have settled or buckled over the years, prompting some people to wonder if they would be better replaced with concrete.

bump in the bricks

John Reynolds attended the meeting to talk to the Council about the condition of the bricks on 10th Street. Tenth street is one of two streets in town made of bricks. For four blocks west of Main Street, 10th street is paved with bricks, while the entire length of 9th Street is also brick.
Reynolds, who lives along the bricked portion of 10th Street, said the bricks have begun to buckle and form dips that hold puddles of rainwater, forming what he called “dangerous” conditions.

“(10th Street) is coming apart,” Reynolds said. “I can understand that a lot of people want to keep the bricks, but with the semis going over that street, it is not heavy enough armor to handle that traffic.”
Legler said replacing the brick streets with concrete pavement is something the Council has looked at in the past.

“Every time we talk about pulling up the brick streets we get a very large quantity of people who are down our throats because we are tearing up a piece of history,” Legler said.
She also said that repairing the brick streets is a possibility, but it costs a considerable amount more than paving would.

“You can fix it with bricks,” Reynolds said, “but what you’re going to end up repairing it again in a few years. (The bricks) just don’t stand up to the heavy equipment.”

Johnson said the bricks have held up pretty good for 90 years.
Councilmembers wondered what the community’s reaction would be to paving the brick streets with concrete. Legler asked North Bend citizens to express their opinion on the matter to council members.
Johnson proposed the option of paving 10th Street and using the bricks pulled up to repair 9th Street, allowing North Bend to keep one brick street.

In other Council business:
• A bill passed by the Nebraska Legislature in April, LB 245, will require towns of 1,000 or more people to add fluoride to its drinking water, unless naturally occurring levels of fluoride are present.
North Bend currently does not add fluoride to its drinking water supply, nor does it have sufficient levels of natural fluoride. A couple of the Council members recalled that the city proposed adding fluoride to its water in the ‘70s. At that time there was enough opposition that the Council decided not to fluoridate the water.
Councilman Mark Johnson, a dentist, said there is really no downside to fluoridation.
“At the optimal amounts, which we would do here, it doesn’t do anything except harden the (tooth) enamel,” he said.
The only way a community can block the fluoridation of its water is if a majority of its citizens vote against doing so.
While the Council does not need voter approval to begin fluoridation, members felt it would be best to put it on November’s general election ballot anyway. LB 245 is set to take effect on June 1, 2010.