For its second year, Red Bridge Park's sculpture trail will extend downtown.

The Park Rapids City Council approved a request Tuesday from the city's Arts and Culture Advisory Commission to locate two sculptures on the sidewalk "bump out" on both sides of Main Avenue, south of 2nd Street.

City Planner Andrew Mack explained that this move allows the arts commission to accept all eight artworks that were submitted for this year, although there are only six concrete pads on the park's sculpture trail.

Arts commission member Rod Nordberg, who also chairs Heartlands Arts (formerly the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council), called the Main Street art installation "a simple way to start the connection with Heartland Trail and downtown," which he said has long been a goal of city planners and business people.

Nordberg and Mack said the boulders will be used as pedestals for one year only, giving city staff and the arts commission time to prepare a more permanent design.

Council member Tom Conway moved to approve placement of the sculptures downtown. The motion carried without dissent.

Huntsinger tower needs repairs

City engineer Jon Olson with Apex Engineering Group presented the findings of a recent inspection of the city's west water tower on Huntsinger Ave., originally built in 1973 and most recently painted in 1998.

As directed by the council on March 12, KLM Engineering, Inc. drained the tower May 8 and took pictures of the exterior, interior wet and interior dry areas to assess the condition of the current coating system.

Inspections last year by the firms Suez and Tnemec, using remotely operated vehicles, suggested there was significant corrosion and sediment buildup below the waterline in the tank, Olson explained. The closer inspection by KLM was desired to determine what improvements are needed.

"We got some good findings," Olson said. "What we thought could be corrosion turned out to not be the case." The bottom of the tank "cleaned up remarkably well, and we only had some localized corrosion," he said. "Generally speaking, we were very pleased with the findings."

KLM recommended that interior spot repairs take place within a year of their inspection. Olson presented two options for water tower improvements.

Option 1 calls for spot repair of corroded areas in the interior and leaving the exterior alone, estimated to cost $135,000 and likely to require a full sandblast and recoating in 6 to 8 years.

Option 2, recommended by staff, includes interior spot repair and an exterior overcoat, costing about $205,000 and increasing the life expectancy of the coating system to 8 to 10 years, while also improving the tower's appearance.

Olson advised the council that because of economies of scale, the second and larger option will fetch better bids and, with luck, last longer. "Once we get beyond that point," he said, "the two costs are kind of a wash."

Public Works Superintendent Scott Burlingame noted that, regardless of which option the city council chooses, a blast and recoat will be needed the next time the tower shows signs of deterioration.

"What we're really trying to do is push out that big expense as far as we can," said Olson.

Council members discussed the possibility of bidding out both options and deciding which way to go after looking at the bids. With Olson advising them that this seemed feasible, Conway made a motion to that effect, which passed unopposed.