The Spring Grove City Council made an in-depth review of the landscape architect's plan that will be included in the Main Street reconstruction project last week, and then they voted on a pared-down version of the proposal at their Sept. 18 meeting.

Going over and tweaking everything from tree placement to light poles, railings, benches, trash receptacles and a water fountain, the council trimmed $73,710 off of an estimated $286,000 "aesthetics" line item, then voted unanimously to approve their version.

Even though the vote was unanimous, not everybody was happy.

"I think it's too little," Councilman Robert Vogel said. "This is about as skinny as you can make this stuff. It looks like we left half of it out."

The addition of irrigation to light poles in the business corridor, along with irrigation for "tree bed" plantings was discussed and voted on separately.

With an estimated cost of $40,000, the irrigation plan includes water for 31 light poles (for hanging flower baskets) and 26 planting beds.

Vogel moved to include the full range of irrigation. "You can't afford to do it afterwards," he said. Councilman Steve Kemp seconded.

Mayor Saundra Solum agreed that the cost to add irrigation after the new street and sidewalks go in would be prohibitive, but still wasn't sure about the expense.

"I'm torn on this issue, we figured if you paid somebody to water, and it would take 10 to 15 years to break even on this," she said.

"I just think it's a perfect opportunity for some summer employment for some kids," Councilmember Lorilyn Dehning said.

"This is a big investment in plant material," Kemp noted. "Irrigation is the best way to take care of it. I know that if you just miss one watering, particularly in a summer like we just had, things can go downhill pretty fast."

"I really like the built-in quality of it," Councilmember Rachel Storlie said. "With the opportunity factor with getting new lights anyway, this could be something foundational that really keeps it looking nice. It just seems silly not to do it."

"If you're going to invest in the plants, it makes sense to do it," Vogel said. "You can always turn it off."

The motion passed 3-2, with Dehning and Solum voting against.

Assessment letters going out

By consensus, the council decided to ask city attorney Joe Hammell to draft a reply to all of the persons who objected to the method of calculating the special assessment for the Main Street project. It will be mailed to each property owner.

The city decided to assess fees on a footage basis along the route, as opposed to basing it on real estate valuation.