Council backs corridor initiative

The Park Rapids Council voted this week to go forward with preliminary plans for landscaping and tree planting along Highway 34. The council agreed to pay half the cost of a proposal from Hanson Design Associates, Fargo, to develop a plan for imp...

The Park Rapids Council voted this week to go forward with preliminary plans for landscaping and tree planting along Highway 34.

The council agreed to pay half the cost of a proposal from Hanson Design Associates, Fargo, to develop a plan for improvements after the highway is reconstructed in 2007 and 2008.

City administrator Brian Weuve told the council the ad hoc Highway 34 committee that's been meeting to discuss the appearance of Highway 34 after it's rebuilt had received design proposals and is recommending hiring Hanson Design.

The city was being asked to pay half the $5,700 cost. A grant application will be submitted to the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for the other half.

Weuve explained the city will be receiving approximately $28,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for easements on city-owned property. Part of the money could be spent to hire Hanson Design and the rest could go into corridor landscaping, Weuve suggested.


Council member Nancy Tague, who has been attending the Highway 34 corridor meetings, said the general idea is to create some continuity along the highway.

City planner Mike Strodtman added Hanson will work with MnDOT's landscape architect. MnDOT also will provide about $5,000 a year for trees and shrubs in the corridor although volunteers will be needed to do the planting.

"So the city will be investing money it's receiving back into the project," Mayor Ted Godfrey summed up, supporting the proposal.

When Highway 34 is widened, about 140 existing trees will be removed. The proposal from Hanson Design is to develop a concept for the placement of street trees along the highway, make recommendations regarding pedestrian lighting and identify areas for street trees on private property. The plan also will identify business billboard signage and other existing features that may interfere with tree placement.

The council voted unanimously to commit the $2,850 and proceed with the grant application.

Weuve also reported on a recent meeting with MnDOT on the Highway 34 project, saying it looks now as if the work in 2007 will go east from the Fish Hook River, rather than the intersection with Highway 71. In 2008, the project would extend west from the river.

In other action Tuesday night, the council (with Nancy Carroll absent):

n Learned the state has approved the annexation of the former Deertown property on Highway 71 north. Todd Township had filed an objection.


n Heard from Sherri Kamensky of Eastbay Drive, who returned to the council this week with a request to de-annex. Two weeks ago, she represented neighbors willing to turn ownership of their road over to the city so it could be used as another access to Baywoods Addition. In return, the Kamenskys and some adjoining property owners would like to have the road maintained.

Three of the property owners annexed into the city in 2004; others are still in Todd Township.

The city had agreed to pursue the proposal.

But this week, Kamensky returned to say that since there is no immediate prospect of being connected to city utilities, she and her husband, Steve, and neighbors, Andy and Leah Hilmanowski, would like to "de-annex."

She said their taxes have increased by 25 percent and they receive no services for the increased expense.

"Generally," Kamensky said, "it was a misunderstanding about what benefits we could attain." Once utilities are offered, she said, they would be willing to annexed again.

City attorney John Masog said he hadn't yet written a letter about acquiring the private road so the city could maintain it. He suggested that since property within the city limits surrounds the other property along the road, it is an issue for the council to consider.

He said if the road is acquired, it would be maintained and that is the staff's recommendation. "We have to get the road first though," he said.


Weuve said that until the Baywoods Addition is developed, it is unlikely the residences would be served with city utilities, but he also explained that property taxes do not pay for the infrastructure. The majority of those costs are assessed to property owners.

Weuve recommended tabling the request until the road matter can be resolved.

Tague told Kamensky she can't help but think they use city services that city taxpayers pay for. "Taxes don't just pay for water and sewer," Tague said.

Masog said he would get the letter done in hopes the city could take over the road before winter. "It is also important the council at least consider what to do with the properties that are surrounded," Masog said.

The council tabled Kamensky's request.

  • Approved the preliminary and final plat for Scott Rech's School House Addition, variance from the side yard setbacks and a conditional use permit to operate a health club and apartments in the old Middle School. The council approved all three requests with the same recommendations for conditions approved by the Planning Commission.
  • Approved a request from Northwoods Bank to connect the trailer park they own east of the bank to the city's sewer system. The existing drainfield is within the right of way and temporary easement needed for the Highway 34 project.
  • Scheduled a budget meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9 at city hall.
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