Engineers show interest in Menahga’s utility projects

The Menahga City Council made a request for proposals at the end of February 2023.

Menahga City Hall 2022
Shannon Geisen/ Park Rapids Enterprise

Over the past month, Menahga City Administrator Lacey Erickson has met with eight engineering firms about the city’s two proposed sewer and water replacement projects.

The first involves 1st Street SW along Spirit Lake and the adjacent block of Balsam Avenue.

The second project is on portions of 2nd St. NW, 2nd St. NE and adjacent streets.

Both are listed in the city’s five-year capital improvement plan (CIP), which was approved in 2021.

The council also seeks to complete 800 feet of water main replacement on State Hwy. 87. They propose including this with one of the larger projects.


The city has not acquired financing, however.

Last month, the Menahga City Council made a request for proposals after Ulteig Engineering received quotes for Hwy. 87 without council knowledge.

In addition, the three quotes came in much higher than Ulteig’s estimates. The lowest quote was 151.85% of the estimate.

Finally, the city council balked at Ulteig’s proposed $468,825 in fees.

Erickson reported at the March 13 meeting that some of the firms expressed concern that the Hwy. 87 portion may not be completed until 2024 or 2025, due to paperwork filing deadlines with the state.

Council consensus was “the sooner, the better.”

John Pauna of Moore Engineering made a personal appearance at the March 13 council meeting to pitch his firm.

Betty Thomsen, a consultant for the city of Menahga, discusses her observations of city leadership. She spoke at the March 13 city council meeting.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

In other business, the council did this:


  • Approved a $49,943 seal coating bid. The low quote came from Asphalt Preservation Company, Inc. of Detroit Lakes.
  • Heard Betty Thomsen, who was hired as a consultant to the Menahga city administrator, share her thoughts on city hall’s needs. “Leadership is not management,” she emphasized. “Management is about things we do,” like planning, budgeting, organizing, problem-solving, setting a direction and developing strategies. Noting that the city uses the weak mayor system, Thomsen said, “With the leadership at this table now, I’ve seen a great reduction in barriers, politics, positioning of power, head games, secret agendas. That just sucks the energy right out of the people in the organization, so you are on a good plateau there. You just need to keep going.”
  • Approved the city administrator’s job description, which now includes clerk and treasurer duties. Erickson explained that city administration will decrease from a three-person office to two with implementation of this job description. The city attorney also reviewed and approved the description.
  • Agreed that interested buyers must provide $1,000 in earnest money in order to purchase four city-owned lots that are up for sale. Council member Durwin Tomperi said he was interested in acquiring one of the lots, so he abstained from the motion, which passed.
  • Appointed Olson and Netland as council representatives to a special assessment policy committee. They will be compensated $30 per meeting and work with Thomsen on the policy update.
  • Learned that an early bird special discount for the city campground garnered 27 responses and $3,819 in reservations.
  • The Wadena County Board of Equalization will meet at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4 at Menahga City Hall.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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