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Main Avenue revitalization plans revised

Park Rapids council members didn't need much convincing to eliminate parts of the Main Avenue revitalization plan.

At a city council workshop held Tuesday, downtown business owners voiced their strong opinions against speed tables, mid-block crosswalks and mid-block nodes.

Mid-block nodes would create problems with parking and result in the loss of a number of spots at each business.

"The majority of my customers are older," said Ann Johnson, owner of Stan's Hallmark. "They will not walk. If our parking places are gone, they're gone. And they're not coming after me."

When it comes to speed bumps, they don't slow people down; they only create problems with snow plowing, said director of the DAC Ed Ranson.

Part of the plan that's more appealing to him and other business owners is the look of the end nodes and colored crosswalks.

"The whole idea here if you're going to do streetscaping is to make the place attractive," Ranson said. "And that's what we want to end up with is attractive but practical."

The council approved the recommendation by business owners to eliminate speed tables, mid-block crosswalks and mid-block nodes from the Main Avenue plan.

"As long as you reach consensus then the council is pretty happy to go through it and work with you and decide how we're going to pay for it," said councilman Dave W. Konshok. "That's the next step."

Assessment costs have not been finalized and the numbers haven't changed since the initial estimates.

Ulteig Engineer Jon Olson presented a breakdown of the estimated assessments Tuesday, adding that the final numbers will not be available until the project is almost complete in 2011.

By going with the city's special assessment policy, 100 percent of the water main and sanitary sewer; 60 percent of street improvements; 50 percent of sidewalk enhancement; and 100 percent of the storm sewer would be assessed.

The rest will be city share.

But the city doesn't have a policy regarding streetscape financing, which is the part the council needs to make a decision on.

"The streetscapes is kind of perhaps one of the biggest question marks that we've got right now," Olson said. "Not only are we looking at how are we going to assess this, but what percentage are we going to assess."

He presented some options to the council:

-For a 30-foot lot, if the city were to fully finance the streetscape portion and go with the policy on the infrastructure, the assessment would be about $8,110.

-If the same property were to take on 40 percent of the streetscape plus the infrastructure, then the assessment would total around $11,020.

-If streetscape was assessed 100 percent, with infrastructure added, a 30-foot lot would pay approximately $12,970.

n The maximum assessment possible would be around $14,170 for a 30-foot lot. That would include infrastructure (based on city policy), 100 percent of the streetscape costs and the parking district.

"We are going to work just as hard at the financing portion of it as we did in figuring out the enhancements and amenities," said Dave Collins, executive director of the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission.

But some business owners said they needed to know what they should expect to pay, sooner than later.

"It really would be helpful when decision making comes to know what your policy is going to be," Ranson told the council.

Mayor Nancy Carroll suggested creating a taskforce consisting of members of the city staff and the revitalization committee and downtown business owners, to solely focus on the financing portion of the project and bring a recommendation to the council.

It may be possible to do something different rather than go with the policy for this unique project, she said.

City administrator Bill Smith will get the taskforce together and come up with a recommendation in the next two weeks to bring to the next council meeting that will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10.

"I'd like to see us make a decision at the next opportunity," he said.