NEWMAN - The city of Newman has started the process of acquiring right-of-way for the eventual expansion of Jensen Road with the $300,000 purchase of a parcel at 219 Jensen.

The City Council authorized City Manager Michael Holland to enter into the agreement to acquire the property from Constancia D. Verissimo at its March 10 meeting.

Holland said one benefit of the anticipated annexation of the Phase I Northwest Newman project, which includes the 219 Jensen property, is the expansion of the road to a full two lanes when development begins.

“This would be a first step,” Holland told the council.

The city also needs Jensen Road right-of-way between Fig Lane and Highway 33 to complete a water line project linked to development of a new well and storage tank further west on Jensen, Holland noted.

Jensen Road is so narrow that one vehicle has to pull off the roadway to allow an oncoming motorist to pass, Holland noted. Pedestrians and bicyclists also use the road, he pointed out.

The road is now owned by the county, he added, but a proposed annexation is in the works - pending the outcome of an election of registered voters living in the 121-acre annexation area. The City Council at its previous meeting scheduled an August, mail-in election during which voters will either confirm or deny the annexation.

“We are trying to take a pro-active stance and try to solve a problem instead of waiting for the county to do it,” Holland commented.

The residential property is located on the north side of Jensen east of Fig Lane. Holland said that under the agreement, Verissimo will be allowed to continue living in her long-time home without charge through the end of 2021 or when the city awards a construction bid within the right-of-way, whichever occurs later.

Additional property will need to be acquired, Holland acknowledged. But, he told the city, it will be prudent to begin that process.

“To gather a critical piece of property.....you gather it when it is available,” Holland said.

Audience member Timothy Parker suggested that purchasing the property is premature in light of the pending annexation vote and asked the city to table the matter.

The council, however, proceeded to vote unanimously to move forward with the purchase.

Maintenance agreement

The council last week also awarded a three-year contract to Joe’s Landscaping and Concrete for maintenance of areas within the city’s lighting and landscaping districts, as well as 25 acres of city parks.

Under the new contract, Joe’s Landscaping will also be responsible for maintenance and regular cleaning of the Sherman Parkway ditch.

Kathryn Reyes, the city’s director of public works, explained that city crews had been responsible for cleaning the ditch but because of their workload were unable to do so as frequently as required basis.

Council member Nick Candea said he regularly fields complaints about the condition of the ditch and issues such as standing water in which mosquitoes breed.

“We should hopefully see a big difference in the maintenance of the ditch,” Reyes stated.

The contract is in an annual amount of $137,488, with the option for a fourth-year renewal with a cost-of-living increase as agreed upon by both parties.