Despite an effort by a Leavenworth County commissioner to end the project, work to improve a section of 179th Street will move forward as scheduled.

Despite an effort by a Leavenworth County commissioner to end the project, work to improve a section of 179th Street will move forward as scheduled.

County Commission Chairman Louis Klemp made a motion Tuesday to drop the project. But the motion did not receive a second from Commissioner Doug Smith. The commission's third member, Bob Holland, was absent.

“It's going to die for a lack of a second,” Klemp said.

The project will pave a gravel section of 179th Street between Leavenworth and Donahoo roads.

The project was a source of debate for the County Commission two years ago. Commissioners debated whether they could proceed with the project as part of the county's Participatory Road Program.

Rules for the program required 100 percent cooperation among affected property owners. But two people who owned property along the project area declined to participate. Commissioners eventually decided to move forward with the project but not as part of the Participatory Road Program.

Construction bids for the project are scheduled to be opened next week. Public Works Director David Lutgen estimated that the county has spent about $75,000 on the project so far.

Tuesday's discussion came after Klemp brought up the project during a meeting last week. He called into question the commission's earlier approval of the project.

Holland suggested last week that the commission could do away with the project.

Klemp was not on the commission when the project was approved in 2016. But he regularly attended commission meetings at that time.

Smith also was not on the commission when the project was approved in 2016.

Klemp argued Tuesday that the commission had shown favoritism when the project was approved, noting the project had not qualified under the guidelines for the Participatory Road Program.

“I have no use for favoritism,” he said.

Amy Salazar, who lives along a stretch of 179th Street, said she worked to obtain signatures to get property owner participation in the project, and she did not understand where the favoritism came from.

Salazar said she would hate to see the project fall apart at this point.

Also Tuesday, commissioners discussed possible changes to the Participatory Road Program.

Currently, the PRP requires property owners to donate the necessary easements for a road improvement project.

County Administrator Mark Loughry suggested shifting the focus to providing a dust patch, or a section of roadway that is paved with a chip-seal process. Property owners would be asked to pay for the materials for the dust patch. The county would maintain the dust patch in the future.

“The cost is significantly less for the county,” he said.

He said the county may be able to allow property owners to pay off the expense of the dust patch over a period of five years through a special assessment on property taxes.

Loughry said staff members will work through details of the proposal. He said the issue will be brought back to commissioners, possibly in about 30 days.

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