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Discovery Circle project is on hold

The Park Rapids City Council has decided to hold off on a proposed Discovery Circle street and utility project until a future date.

Many residents who live in the area have spoken out in opposition to the project due to high assessment and hook-up costs. Homeowners in the area currently use wells for water.

City engineer Jon Olson attended Tuesday's council meeting to present final plans and specifications for the project and seek authorization to advertise for bids.

Councilman Paul Utke said he thought it seemed too early to move forward to receive bids. He wanted city staff to get more information on possibilities for financing to help property owners in this area.

"Now isn't the time," councilman Pat Mikesh said in agreement.

Councilman Dave Konshok agreed with holding off on the project for now but added, "It's not a matter of if, but when."

The project will need to be done in the near future, he said.

Mayor Nancy Carroll also said she was in agreement with the council on the timing of the project. She wanted city staff to continue gathering information on funding options.

While the council decided to hold off on the Discovery Circle project, it decided to move forward with advertising for bids for watermain improvements on County Road 6.

The project will improve the flow of the system, which currently has two mains that cross the river. This will connect them to create a better network.

In other business, the council:

n Approved hiring a landscape architect to prepare final plans and specifications for proposed improvements to Pioneer Park.

For about the last year, the Sanquist family had been working with the city on developing a memorial for their daughter, Dawn Anderson at Pioneer Park. The Parks Board reported that the family has decided to work on a different type of memorial on a smaller scale at another location.

The Parks Board recommended taking the concept that was developed by the family and develop plans with cost estimates.

City administrator Bill Smith said Shannon Hendrickson, with Touch of Eden Landscaping, offered to develop the plans free of cost. The plans will be brought back to the Parks Board for review.

The council agreed that the city needed to move forward with developing the park.

"I think this will enhance the whole downtown experience," Parks Board chair Sue Cutler said.

With the Governor's Fishing Opener coming to Park Rapids next spring the council agreed it wanted to fix up the downtown park.

n Heard from Park Rapids resident Linda Heath about the city's enactment of a watering and irrigation ban that began last week.

She was upset with how residents were given notice of the ban through the newspaper and radio and would have preferred a letter to each resident.

The city passed a resolution banning lawn watering all but 20 minutes a day Mondays and Thursdays.

Public Works Director Scott Burlingame said last week water pressure dropped very quickly in the wells and the city needed to act quickly. An announcement through the media was the most efficient option, he said.

Heath said that those with fairly new grass seed or sod would need an exemption to water their lawn more. Burlingame said an exemption would be allowed for those situations.

She also implored the council to make water infrastructure improvements a priority.

"Putting a Band-Aid on this hasn't worked," she said. " ... This needs to be a priority."

n Passed a resolution to annex Phase II of the Todd Township Orderly Annexation Area into the city. This is part of an agreement that was passed in 2002.

n Approved authorizing $8,250 in funding for a proposed gazebo at Lindquist Park.

Park Board chairwoman Sue Cutler said the project has been a partnership with St. Joseph's Area Health Services, Hubbard County and the city. The hospital has indicated that it would not be able to contribute any additional funding for the project so the city and county are being asked to increase their contributions.

The money from the city will come from parkland dedication funds, which are set aside for infrastructure and capital improvements in parks.

n Approved hiring two part time summer employees for the Public Works Department: Beau Daniels and Patricia Haataja.

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