The city of Ashland will move forward on plans to pave Liberty Street and add stormdrain gutters and sidewalks despite high up-front costs.




Paving the dirt road could actually save the city money in the long-run because of lower maintenance costs, said Interim Public Works Director Jim Olson.




"This is an excellent money-saving situation," Olson told Ashland City Councilors at a Tuesday meeting. The council approved formation of a Liberty Street local improvement district by a 5-1 vote.




Olson said the new paving will require very little maintenance for 20 or 30 years.




A majority of neighbors living on Liberty Street petitioned the city in the fall of 2007 to form the district. Neighbors will have to pay $115,522 &

or $5,251 per lot &

for the improvements. The city will kick in $104,478 under a cost-sharing formula governing local improvement districts.




Neighbors said they are bothered by dust and have had to use sandbags to keep rainwater from running off Liberty Street into their homes, garages and yards.




The project includes a storm drain system to control the run-off. Neighbors also said city crews have to regrade the dirt road at least once each year, but pot-holes soon form again.




The Ashland Public Works Department favors paving Ashland's remaining dirt roads to reduce maintenance costs, control stormwater run-off, improve safety and keep dust out of the air and dirt out of the storm drain system and local creeks.




"I'm in favor of it because I don't want to give up on our commitment to water quality," said Councilor Kate Jackson, who voted for the formation of the Liberty Street local improvement district.




She noted that the city could not afford to pave the street without sharing costs with neighbors.




With a slow-down in construction in the Rogue Valley, Councilor Russ Silbiger said now may be the best time to pave the street because costs may be lower.




But Councilor Alice Hardesty voted against the project because of the price tag. She said her highest priority for local improvement projects is for those that provide sidewalks linking neighborhoods to schools.




Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com. To post a comment, visit .