Residents at Eisenach Village have been patient over the last three years.
Since the 2018 construction season, the active senior community members had to utilize different detours to route around construction of 20th Street Northwest, which runs past their neighborhood tucked away north of Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community. It was work being done by the City of Waverly to upgrade the street from a converted farm-to-market road to a full-fledged city street.
At the same time, the Canadian National Railroad made improvements to the crossing both on 20th Street as well as nearby Fifth Avenue Northwest.
During that part of the project, CN added new crossing lights and gates to make the tracks safer for the older residents and others using the street and trails adjacent to it.
On Friday, the residents, some staff members at Bartels and Mayor Adam Hoffman celebrated the completion of the first phase of the 20th Street project with a ribbon cutting, opening the street and a christening of the signals.
Mary French, chairwoman of the Eisenach Village Residents Association, said her neighbors had to "endure" going onto gravel roads to make the detour around the construction for the last three construction seasons.
“It’s the last summer,” French said in her opening remarks. “We’ve finally got the road done. We’ve got the lights and the drop arms. We are so happy that it’s done.”
Hoffman appreciated the residents’ patience while the work was being done, which he noted was under the last three mayors – he, Dean Soash and Chuck Infelt.
“I know that five years was kind of the hopeful (timeline),” Hoffman said. “We just barely made that.
“Just the safety that this brings to this thoroughfare, not only the roadway, but also the pedestrian walkway, that it gives in connecting the campuses. It just further bolsters the possibilities to the north of here for future development, whether it be Eisenach or something completely different, who knows?”
French said her committee had looked back at minutes of some of the very first residents’ meetings when Eisenach Village was founded 10 years ago. She said they mentioned the condition of 20th Street and the lack of crossing signals at the railroad tracks.
She then turned the program over to the two remaining “pioneer” couples who first moved into the neighborhood – Russ and Betty Westmeyer, and Charlie and Gloria Dreier – to cut the red caution tape that served as the ribbon for the ceremonial cutting.
After a quick snip from Betty, French handed a bottle of champagne to Gloria to christen the crossing lights. Once the bubbly sprayed around the signal, with a few drops lightly splashed onto this reporter, the residents helped themselves to refreshments inside the Klubhaus.
The mayor said that Waverly is not only about growth but also sustainability. He said the 20th Street project is part of both.
“It’s sustaining a good livelihood of this community but also growing this community as well,” he said. “That’s what I see of it. I stepped into this position amidst this process, and I obviously wanted to see this to fruition and completion.”