Council reviews infrastructure projects

Soon after Thanksgiving, Park Rapids' "skyline" on the east side of town is expected to start changing as the new water tower goes up. Tuesday night, city engineer Gary Nansen told the city council the contractor should begin to erect the structu...

Soon after Thanksgiving, Park Rapids' "skyline" on the east side of town is expected to start changing as the new water tower goes up.

Tuesday night, city engineer Gary Nansen told the city council the contractor should begin to erect the structure Nov. 27 and it will be up sometime in February. Completion date for the project is Aug. 1.

Nansen also updated the council on other projects in the works.

Now that the city has obtained an easement through the former Big Pines Tent & RV Park, the city plans to install sewer and water on Central Avenue, South Street and Middle Avenue in 2007.

Nansen said lots in the area are large so the property assessments will be relatively high for a local project, approximately $16,000 for a 150-foot lot. At the same time, he said, costs have risen. With today's costs, the number is realistic.


The project costs are estimated at $499,200. The city's share is estimated at $119,300, $73,900 toward the cost of street improvements and $45,400 for sanitary sewer across Big Pines.

The council scheduled a public hearing on the proposed project for Nov. 28.

With plans for the first phase of the reconstruction of Highway 34 and Pleasant Avenue (CSAH 53) nearly complete, Nansen said there will need to be a public hearing on the Highway 34 project in December or January. There also may need to be another hearing on the Pleasant Avenue project if it's been more than a year since the last one.

The city's part in both projects is relatively minor, Nansen reminded, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation the lead on the Highway 34 project. Pleasant Avenue is a Hubbard County project.

The city also has put a priority on replacing infrastructure in the alleys between Highway 71 north and North Main. Nansen said he is still trying to negotiate with utility companies.

Because the water and sewer lines are old and failing, the city has been trying to schedule the project for several years. The latest plan, which would cause the least disruption, would be to keep the work on the west side of the alleys.

Nansen said Minnesota Power has agreed to move their power poles to the east side and the gas company also will move its line.

"Qwest is the stumbling block in terms of relocating," Nansen said. The utility has a major line running down the alley. Moving it would be costly.


So far, he said, Qwest has offered $25,000 to help the city acquire easements and move or take down some garages on the west side of the alley, but that isn't enough, Nansen said.

"Their decision will determine the course of what we do," Nansen said. "If there's not more money, it will be more costly to them than working with us."

So, negotiations continue. Nansen said he expects a decision soon.

In other action Tuesday night, the council:

n Approved an application for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) program. Weuve said city officials met with representatives of the Antique Tractor Club last week about where to go with investigating contamination in the old city dump that is now the club's East 40 showgrounds.

The Tractor Club has already applied to the VIC program. City administrator Brian Weuve said the city would need to hire a consultant to do further work at the site "and guide us on future uses."

Unless there are grant funds available, the city will have to pay the costs. In addition, the MPCA charges $150 an hour for any assistance the agency provides.

"That's not a tax, that's a fee," quipped council member Gene Kinkel.


"Are they (MPCA) that under funded that we have to pay their hourly fee?" asked council member Nancy Carroll.

Weuve said that is the case.

Clyde Zirkle said he wanted to talk to state Sen. Rod Skoe about the situation first, but Kinkel said the city shouldn't drag its feet. "We have no choice," Kinkel said. "The Tractor Club has gone ahead with this, and in good faith they have already gone into this. I told them this is a good way to go."

n Authorized a grant application to the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for $10,500, $7,500 to be used for funding a parks and trails plan and $3,000 to implement growth management in the "greater Park Rapids community."

n On the recommendation of the airport commission, approved installing a communications cable between the airport arrival-departure building and the new hangar. The council also approved replacing the automatic fueling system at the airport at a cost of about $14,700. The existing fueling system was rated as a top annoyance by airport customers in a survey last spring.

n Approved naming the trail in Red Bridge Park the Russ Skoe Memorial Pathway.

n Approved a request form AKA Financial for a one-year extension to meet the employment criteria in the JOBZ agreement between the business and the city. The agreement called for AKA Financial to have five full-time employees in place on or before Oct. 14, 2006. Currently, the business has two full-time employees and one half-time employee.

n Scheduled a special meeting for a workshop session and to canvass election results for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8.

What To Read Next
Get Local