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Main Avenue project could be combined into one phase

Main Avenue reconstruction could be completed in one phase in 2010 in a new proposal from the Park Rapids City Council.

"Doing the whole project in one summer instead of trying to spread it out over two, if we could pull that off, it would make it so much easier on everybody," said councilwoman Sue Tomte.

City administrator Bill Smith made the suggestion to move forward with a combined project in 2010 rather than two phases. The city could continue to look for grant money and prepare for bonding that will need to be done.

His suggested timeline is to authorize the engineers to proceed and have the project ready to bid by the end of the year.

"Are we still considering doing south of 8th?" asked councilman David W. Konshok.

Some property owners have expressed interest in having utilities south to 11th. The council decided that utilities should be included in the plan for south of 8th to 11th. That part of the project could be taken out later if the council decides it isn't needed.

The council decided to have staff write up a new resolution to move forward with the project as one phase in 2010. If that resolution passes, another public hearing will be needed.

Ellis Jones, representing the Downtown Business Association, said that the planning stage is the biggest part of the project.

"I think the enthusiasm is there," he said.

Jones said he would like to include the property owners south of the business district in the discussions to keep them informed.

"Our end result, our goal, will be a revitalized Park Rapids that has better business, has better tourism, visitors, a better reputation, our property values go up, our businesses increase, that fixed income person down on the south part of Main ... finds out that their house value has increased," Jones said. "We're all shooting for that same end result."

Konshok said the streetscape details still need to be decided on and he hopes to receive a lot of public input

Mayor Nancy Carroll is also looking forward to a consensus on many of the streetscape details.

"I very much support this project and I very much want to see us get the best value for our taxpayer dollars," she said. "... Let's do it right."

Jones said he will continue to organize monthly "cracker barrel" sessions to discuss different aspects of the Main Avenue project. The next meeting is May 27 and will include information from city of Wadena leaders who went through a similar Main street reconstruction project.