Akeley's share of Hwy. 34 project approaching $200K

LA290244_Presentation-Layout 1
This graphic shows the layout of the Hwy. 34 project in Akeley scheduled to begin in July.
Contributed / MnDOT

Akeley’s portion of the Hwy. 34 project will be almost $200,000.

The city approved entering into a cooperative agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to provide for payment for the city’s share of water main, parking lane and other construction costs at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

The estimated $192,889 from the city is due in May once bids have come in. At the end of the project, the city will receive a check if not all of the money they pay is spent.

“That’s almost our total yearly budget,” council member Dan Riggs said. City Clerk Kristi Kath said when the project was first discussed they didn’t know the cost of water and sewer work. A MnDOT representative Anthony Collyard at the meeting said construction costs have also increased substantially since the project was first discussed.

ATV access issues

Akeley resident Nels Kramer said no provision has been made in the Hwy. 34 plan for ATVs.


“We have 25,000 acres that we’re shutting off to ATVs so we can have a tree on Main Street,” he said. “You’d have plenty of room to run them there somewhere.”

Mayor Brian Hitchcock said having a place for ATVs has been discussed but the cost would be prohibitive.

“We could have kept the streets as wide as they were but the cost would have been a lot greater,” Hitchcock said. “Whatever is in our part we pay for. A lot of it is green because it’s cheaper. It has nothing to do with the trees but everything to do with the cost. It’s already almost $200,000 but if we did (include an ATV route) the cost could have been double.”

Chuck Andress, who heads the Community Parks Project, said the committee has developed a new site plan with Moore Engineering that includes a paved parking lot for the future museum and the new bathroom in the alley area near the museum. He said the plan calls for the ATV trail behind the museum to be closed. Council consensus was that they do not agree with that plan and would like to explore other options.

“I adamantly don’t want to see that ATV trail closed,” Riggs said.

“You talk about tourism and ATVs are a big part of it,” Hitchcock said.

HRA dissolution

The council passed a resolution officially dissolving the Akeley Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). Earlier the HRA had approached the council requesting the dissolution due to not being able to find board members to serve in the organization.

Council members voted to deposit a check for HRA assets of $13,178 made out to the city in the Akeley Community Projects fund.


In other business the council:

  • Tabled action on the possibility of the city acquiring tax-forfeited land and a building next to city hall to possibly use for a parking lot until the March meeting, with Riggs abstaining because he has an interest in the property. The first step will be to have the building appraised. 
  • Approved Zachary Johnson as the new city attorney. 
  • Approved a calcium chloride contract for 2023 at an estimated cost of $2,683. 
  • Approved purchasing Neptune 360 software and hardware from Ferguson Waterworks for a total cost of $8,400 to read water meters in the city. The cost includes $5,400 for the unit that reads meters and $1,800 for the software. There is also a $1,200 annual fee. Old meters that have not yet been replaced will also be upgraded to work with the new system.
  • Heard from Billy Krotzer that four new members have joined the Eastern Hubbard County Fire District.
  • Discussed the site for the helicopter pad that is part of the community parks project. The council approved the city sending a letter to the Department of Natural Resources to ask how to move forward with the helipad project.
  • Confirmed that the city will have a mail-in ballot for the special county board election.
  • Tabled a decision on having the Juneteenth holiday on June 19, recently signed into state law, be a paid holiday for full-time city employees.

The next council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 at city hall.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
What To Read Next
Get Local