MARSHALL - There weren't always clear-cut answers for homeowners and residents of Walker Lane during a meeting held with city of Marshall staff on Tuesday night. But property owners were able to shed some light on whether the private lane could be included in city improvement projects.
The informational meeting was held to discuss reconstruction and maintenance issues for the lane and its water and sewer utilities. While Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson led the meeting, representatives of the Marshall City Council, City Attorney Dennis Simpson, and Brad Roos of Marshall Municipal Utilities were present to answer questions.
Walker Lane is a short drive that turns off of Redwood Street, and runs along the Redwood River. Utilities like sewer and water lines are in need of replacement along the lane, and last year it had been included in a city improvement project on nearby Park Avenue. However, Olson said it appears Walker Lane is not a public street, and the two projects have been separated for now. Olson said he apologized for the misunderstandings regarding the projects.
There are other irregularities with Walker Lane, Olson said Tuesday. The properties on Walker Lane were not platted by the city, and their described borders leave a couple of narrow strips of "no man's land" in the middle of the roadway. The lane is also narrower than the standard for city streets, with little to no setback for the six homes along the lane.
"It was all built, the way it looks, by the property owners," Olson said. In the city's records, he said, "We can't find anything different than that."
Some of the peculiarities of Walker Lane would make replacing road surfaces and water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines more difficult. But Olson said the main question would be who pays for the improvements. If Walker Lane is a private drive with private utilities, the costs of replacing utility lines would fall to the property owners.
However, deeds that property owners brought with them to the meeting suggest that there are public utility easements serving Walker Lane. It will take more time to do the needed research, but Olson and city staff said that's a good sign that the city may be able to replace utilities.
Having public utility easements from all property owners on the lane would be one step toward improving utilities, Olson said. The lane would also need to be platted as a subdivision. This would help clear up ownership and access questions for Walker Lane properties and utilities, he said. More work will need to be done.
"We didn't expect to have any answers tonight," Olson said. The city will stay in touch with Walker Lane homeowners with more information, he said.