February 04, 2023

Newton will dedicate $1.3M ARPA, TIF funds towards Arbor Estates streets

Construction of the collector road to 11th Ave. to help development and traffic

In addition to using portions of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for public safety, the City of Newton is also allotting a large chunk to infrastructure. Specifically, the Arbor Estates residential subdivision, which is a partly developed area northeast of town in a 70-acre lot near Agnes Patterson Memorial Park.

Newton City Administrator Matt Muckler said most of the city’s ARPA funds are going toward the subdivision, which is being completed in phases. The city council has identified Phase 2 of the development as a top priority, listing it as its No. 3 goal for 2022-2024. This $1.3 million phase covers the streets portion.

“This is going to be an extension of East 23rd Street North from where it current dead ends, and then we’re going to run it all the way to North 11th Avenue East,” Muckler said. “So it’s basically a north-south through Arbor Estates. Most of the development we’ve done on Arbor Estates has been on the eastern side.”

When the street construction is complete, it will open up all the areas to the west from East 23rd Street over the nearby Berg Middle School. Muckler believes it will also make the area more developable and expand areas that do not require the city to pay for that infrastructure.

Jody Rhone, director of public works for the City of Newton, said there are already some streets constructed around Arbor Estates. Phase 2 creates a collector road — which is a type of road that directs traffic from local streets to main arteries — of East 23rd Street North and ties it to 11th Avenue.

“It’s so we can try to alleviate a little of the traffic congestion where everybody’s having to go south to get out of there. And (the Phase 2 project) will potentially make one cul-de-sac, but I don’t know if that’s 100 percent determined exactly what all we would do on that,” Rhone said.

Connecting East 23rd Street North to 11th Avenue provides a clear path through Arbor Estates, which has only really been accessible through its southern streets. Rhone said there is also not a lot of return on investment for a developer to come in and put in a collector road with very minimal lots off of it.

“So that’s something that maybe the city has to take on putting on the collector street,” Rhone said. “Then it would be easier for a developer to come in and put in an avenue off of here and then have every bit of frontage off of that be a lot that they can sell.”

All the traffic coming in through the developed areas of Arbor Estates Phase 1 were coming in off of East 23rd Street or East 25th Street.

Giving an outlet to Arbor Estates through the north side will hopefully improve circulation of traffic, Muckler added. However, there is one “wrinkle” in the project. The street was originally planned to go directly north in a straight line toward 11th Avenue. But the city found a wetland area a block north of the existing street.

“After some consulting with the Army Corps of Engineers we’re going to veer East 23rd Street North slightly to the west and then back up north to avoid that wetland area,” Muckler said. “Which saves the project about $400,000 … What we would have had to do was install another bridge.”

If the city had gone that route, it would add another bridge to the city’s list to maintain and inspect. Muckler said the Newton Housing Development Corporation board was made aware of this alteration and approved of the change.

Newton will pay for the Arbor Estates Phase 2 project with ARPA and TIF funds.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.