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Main Avenue project will take two years to complete

Streets in southwest Park Rapids have been flooding this week, demonstrating the need for the street and utility improvement plan slated for this summer. The City Council approved plans and specifications this week. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids Main Avenue street and utility construction will be phased over two years because of difficulty acquiring federal funds.

At last month's City Council meeting, city engineer Jon Olson said the $730,000 in federal money allotted for the project will be funneled to the city through the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The money hasn't reached MnDOT yet so that won't leave enough time to start the project early this spring and complete it in one summer.

The new phasing plan, which is dependant upon MnDOT receiving the funds, is to work on Main Avenue from Highway 34 to Fifth Street beginning Aug. 2. Side streets on Second, Third and Fourth Streets will be completed in 2011, along with the remaining areas.

Despite the hiccup, Olson said he has been impressed with MnDOT.

"I couldn't be more impressed with the state," he said. "Once the money gets here, we're a go."

Olson has been working with MnDOT District 2 representatives on drafting the project memorandum. They have been able to get some of the legwork done even though the federal funds haven't filtered through.

"The only fear I have is a fight with the center parking," Olson said.

Center street parking is considered a design exception. He's confident the state will understand the need but he's unsure on the federal level.

"I'm sure we can establish a hardship, though," Olson said.

The council approved delaying the bid opening until the federal funds arrive.

In other business, the council:

n Approved plans and specifications for the Southwest street and utility improvement plan. The city will also advertise for bids.

The project is from Sixth through Eighth Street near St. Joseph's Area Health Services. It includes water main, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, sidewalk and street improvements in the area.

The total project cost is $1.37 million. Portions of the project will be assessed to property owners.

"These type of conditions show this is really needed," Olson said of the water backing up on the streets in the area.

The bid opening will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 22.

n Approved a conditional use permit for an outpatient mental health clinic in the R-1 zoning district at 515 Bridge Street.

n Approved a request for a kiosk board on the south wall of Cattail Creek on Main Avenue.

The board will be used to promote art related events in the area.

n Decided not to change the personnel policy for non-union employees.

A proposal was originally made to switch some vacation and sick time to Paid Time Off (PTO). The non-union employees were not in favor of the changes so it was decided not to change anything in the policy this year.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561