Highway 34 landscape plan will be updated for bidding

The ground may be covered with white, but the Highway 34 Landscape Committee is thinking green. The committee has begun meeting again to wrap up the necessary plans the Minnesota Department of Transportation is requiring, planner Mike Strodtman t...

The ground may be covered with white, but the Highway 34 Landscape Committee is thinking green.

The committee has begun meeting again to wrap up the necessary plans the Minnesota Department of Transportation is requiring, planner Mike Strodtman told the Park Rapids Council Tuesday night.

The plan needs to be updated to address comments from residents and business owners and trimmed to meet the budget. Strodtman recommended hiring Jim Hanson, landscape architect who prepared the original plan, to amend it.

MnDOT has committed $80,000 to the project in addition to landscaping provided as part of the highway reconstruction. The city set aside $30,000 from MnDOT land acquisition to be used for the Highway 34 project.

The cost of hiring Hanson - about $8,800 - would come from the city fund, Strodtman said. In addition to revising the tree planting plans and specifications, the work would include coordinating the project with MnDOT, bidding and administering the project.


The bidding has to meet MnDOT requirements since it is in their right-of-way, Strodtman explained.

He also asked the council to approve the committee's request to move the east welcome sign farther east.

Katie Magozzi, executive director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, attended the meeting and supported moving the sign. With the widening of Highway 34, CSAH 4 will be the gateway to the city, she said, and at that location, it could be lit.

If the council agrees, Magozzi said, she would contact MnDOT for a permit and help siting the sign on MnDOT right-of-way.

The council approved hiring Hanson for the landscaping project, relocating the east entrance sign and spending $150 Magozzi requested for refurbishing the logs that frame it.

Strodtman also asked the council to consider what they want to do with the former Delaney's property when MnDOT turns it over in 2009. Adjacent property owners are interested in the city creating a parking lot on the property, but others would rather it be converted to green space. Another option would be to create angled or parallel parking adjacent to the street and leave the majority of the property as green space, Strodtman said.

Council member Clyde Zirkle said local businesses need it for parking, but after some discussion the council decided to take it up again later.

In other action Tuesday night, the council:


n Heard the preliminary engineering report for utility and street improvements for River's Edge Estates, but took no action. Strodtman said developer John Rhoades contacted him. "He has pulled out and will watch the market."

The proposed twin home development was located south of 8th Street East and west of Eastern Avenue.

n Heard the preliminary engineering report for Valhalla 1st Addition and Reese's Towering Pines, adjoining developments between Western and Larson avenues. The plat for Valhalla calls for single-family homes; Reese's Towering Pines would be a twin home development.

"The challenge with these developments is the storm water," said city engineer Gary Nansen. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requirements now include stormwater and drainage plans.

The combined project costs with curb and gutter (urban section streets) are estimated at $628,600, or $22,625 in Valhalla 1st Addition and $25,200 in Reese's Towering Pines (to accommodate two services per lot for twinhomes). If a gravel portion of Larson Avenue is paved as part of the project, the total cost is $670,500.

The numbers are "pretty close" to the costs from bids last year, Nansen said. "Normally, they increase, but I think we will see good construction bids because contractors don't all have a lot of work."

A consideration, Nansen pointed out, is that the two large parcels were assessed an estimated $60,000 for improvements to Western Avenue in 2007. If the $60,000 is distributed over 22 lots, the assessments would increase by $2,700.

Construction could be spring or early summer.


A public hearing is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19.

n Nansen also presented a preliminary engineering report for improvement projects, primarily on streets, in four different areas. They are: 1) Hollinger Street between Middle Avenue North and Henrietta Avenue, including realignment of the intersection at Eastern Avenue, 2) a final layer of bituminous on Bear Path Drive, 3) underground utilities and bituminous on Heartland Trail Drive between North Street and East River Drive and 4) bituminous on Eagle Drive. Estimated cost of the combined projects is $659,400.

A public hearing on these projects also will be held Feb. 19.

n Rejected a request from Mel Gulsvig, Elk Valley Inc., for an extension on payments due under a developer's agreement for extending city utilities to his property in Todd Township. (The area eventually will be annexed as part of an orderly annexation agreement with the township.)

n Awarded the contract to replace an overhead door at the fire hall to Park Avenue Overhead Doors. The Park Rapids business submitted the lowest of three quotes at $8,476.

n Authorized police chief Terry Eilers purchasing equipment for a new vehicle and officer. Eilers estimated the cost at about $12,000. The money will come from the forfeiture fund and donations.

n Hired Swede Nelson as a part-time Rapids Spirits liquor store clerk.

n Liquor store manager Scott Olson reported a 3.5 percent increase in sales from 2006 to 2007.


Sales by class as a percentage of gross showed a slight increase in beer and wine, Olson said. The breakdown for 2007 was: beer - 49.9 percent, liquor 32.4 percent and wine 14.9 percent.

n Received recommendations on bridge repairs from county engineer David Olsonawski. The red footbridge needs the most work.

n Appointed Ted Godfrey as acting mayor.

n Received the monthly building permit report showing Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 the city issued 219 building permits valued at nearly $26.5 million. Of the total, 35 were single family, 114 were for residential remodeling or additions, eight were for new commercial and 38 were for commercial remodeling or additions.

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