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Public hearing set for Main Avenue project

The Park Rapids City Council voted to call a public hearing in November for the Main Avenue utility and street reconstruction project.

Gary Nansen, city engineer, provided new information to the council Tuesday night about the downtown project. New costs total about $3,473,600, not including streetscape amounts.

About a month ago, the council looked at some alternatives that cost less than initial proposals. The original total estimated costs was $5,245,100. The alternative is much less than the original cost estimate.

Nansen has narrowed down the proposal to one alternative that has the project divided into two phases. The revamped proposal would stop paving at Eighth Street instead of going south to Industrial Park Drive.

The first phase would be constructed in 2009 and would include street and utility reconstruction from Sixth Street to Eighth Street and utility extensions to un-served properties between Eighth Street and Industrial Park Road. This phase includes no street improvements.

The second phase would be constructed in 2010 and would include street and utility reconstruction from Highway 34 to Sixth Street. Streetscapes would be included as is determined feasible by the council.

"One of the major changes from the report ... is that the original report included street improvements and sidewalks improvements from Eighth Street south," Nansen said.

The improvements would not include any except street restoration of the gravel-based street there now, he said. It would include sanitary sewer and a couple segments of water main.

In 2010, the more commercial part of downtown, would have some streetscape elements included in it, Nansen said.

Estimated project costs, according to a report provided by Nansen, are $1,066,300 for phase one and $2,407,300 for phase two.

"Those are taking out about a million in costs that were included in that south end for street and sidewalk improvements," he said.

These numbers are just for infrastructure and reconstruction, Nansen said. Any streetscape costs would be additional.

The city's share for phase one is estimated to be $389,650, with the assessable portion being $676,659.

Estimated assessment costs for average interior commercial lots in phase one are:

• 30 foot lot, $7,150

• 50 foot lot, $10,450

• 100 foot lot, $18,700

The city's share for phase two is estimated to be $1,377,500 with the assessable portion being $1,029,800.

Estimated assessment costs for average interior commercial lots are:

• 30 foot lot, $8,000

• 50 foot lot, $11,700

• 100 foot lot, $20,900

The city's infrastructure in the downtown area dates back to the 1930s and the council has been told it needs replacing.

"The intent, as it's laid out, would be to bid the two projects separately, one in 2009 and one in 2010," Nansen said.

The public hearing is only for phase one. But if the city goes ahead with phase one, they are very likely to move ahead with phase two, he said. There will be two different hearings and two different timelines on the project, Nansen said.

The public hearings would determine how much of the streetscape work would be done, Nansen said.

Ellis Jones, representing the Park Rapids steering committee for this project, attended the council meeting.

At one of the committee's meetings, the group was working on how to do a cost breakdown for property and business owners on Main Street.

The group wants to educate all of the downtown property owners of what the timeline is, Jones said. Some ideas include going door to door and doing an informal question and answer session. This would be different than the public hearing.

"Just get a feel for the feedback that we're getting ... for their attitudes about this," Jones said. "And, hopefully, if it's going to be done, we can belly up to the bar and pay the little extra 25 percent and do a first-class job."

Once the steering committee feels like the information is all out there and the business owners know what is going on, it will start looking at preparing for construction, Jones said.

"I think the open communication is a great idea and opportunities to educate the property owners," said Mayor Nancy Carroll. "It's great."

A public hearing was set for Tuesday, Nov. 25.