by Alan McArthur
Platte City's Public Works Committee heard from several residents on Monday regarding curb helpers which were removed before the city began resurfacing many streets.
The committee has not yet made a decision regarding the curb helpers and will conduct more research and make a decision at their next meeting.
Curb helpers are material placed in the gutter between the street and a homeowner's driveway to make the transition smoother. The curb helpers can be made of permanent materials such as concrete or asphalt or be removable materials such as rubber or wood beams.
Platte City currently has an ordinance making it illegal to install curb helpers in gutters along city streets.
“Platte City has a standard of using lazy back curbs,” said Keith Moody, city administrator. “We had a discussion on this issue before and there wasn't a consensus. We moved forward knowing we needed to remove curb helpers to repair gutters. As we have removed them we've gotten complaints.”
Some aldermen have been receiving complaints about the curb helpers being removed recently.
“Both Ron (Stone) and I have received a lot of calls on this,” said Andy Stanton, alderman.
Moody said the curb helpers can cause problems in the city streets.
“The gutters are designed to direct water to the sewers and (curb helpers) don't allow water to flow correctly,” said Moody. “We have streets that hold water for a while because of them. Trucks will also catch the edge of curb helpers with snow blades.”
Leonard Hendricks, public works director, described how people must enter driveways with curb helpers in order to not scrape their cars.
“These are designed to drive at an angle,” said Hendricks. “They allow a developer to build a driveway along the finished curbs and cost less than the stand up curbs.”
“A car will drag on these if they go at them straight on,” said Moody.
According to Hendricks, the gutters are made of concrete because they handle water running over them better than asphalt does.
“Asphalt is not made to run water on it,” said Hendricks. “That's why we have damage now. When we took curb helpers out on Vine View we had standing water in the curb.”
Hendricks said the department will break blades or break hydraulics on snow removal trucks because of curb helpers. The drivers will also sometimes scrape in residents' yards because the driver doesn't feel the gutter because of the curb helper.
“I have 26 years in public works and these do a lot of damage to equipment,” said Hendricks.
Moody said the city needed to know how the committee wanted to proceed so they could inform residents.
“We do need some direction,” said Moody.
“It's so hard to decide,” said Marsha Clark, alderman.
One idea presented was to suspend the ordinance barring curb helpers.
“You could come up with a guideline for allowing them,” said Moody. “Just rescinding the ordinance is a little risky. There has to be some standard. If you do allow people to put something in, it should be a non-permanent material.”
The committee looked at several possible removable materials including using a piece of wood two inches by six inches in the gutter or purchasing rubber curb helpers to place in the gutter. Both options would still allow water to flow underneath.
“We could let the homeowner do it if it is removable,” said Clark.
Stanton later said that at the next public works meeting the committee will make a decision on the issue and may take the issue on an individual basis.
“It is in the city's best interest for water flow and snow plowing to not allow them,” said Stanton. “There may be people who have a low car and could need these. There is no good answer to this problem.”