Menahga City Council initiates water tower, street, sewer planning

The council hired an engineering firm to write a facility plan for street and sewer improvements and a design to replace the existing water tower.

The Menahga water tower stands in the background of this 2018 Menahga Midsummer water war.

The Menahga City Council hired Ulteig Engineers, Inc. on Feb. 9 to complete two engineering plans: one for street improvements and another to replace the existing water tower.

The council also approved grant applications to Sourcewell and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for energy and environment planning and implementation.

City engineer Brian Hiles of Ulteig explained that a capital improvement plan – approved by the previous council in 2020 – prioritized public works projects over the next five years.

Hiles said the water tower project has been kicked around the city for at least 10 years. “It has never fallen into the affordability range for funding before,” he said, referring to the rate used by the state to determine the city’s eligibility for low-interest loans and grants. “This year, it is eligible, so that’s why we’re looking at moving that forward.”

According to Ulteig’s proposed scope of services, a new water tower would be located north of the existing one and south of city hall on vacant land owned by the city.


Ulteig will receive a lump sum fee of $61,425 for its design and bidding services, which involve preparing a detailed drawing and specifications, contracting with a geotechnical engineer to complete soil borings, providing a cost estimate and assisting the city with submitting a Drinking Water Revolving Fund application to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (MPFA) for project financing. Ulteig would then help the city obtain and evaluate contractor bids. Ulteig’s fees related to construction are estimated at $40,500, for a total bill of $101,925.

The council then authorized a loan application to MPFA’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund, estimating the loan amount to be $995,000.

City Administrator Curt Kreklau stressed that the city is not committed to anything at this point.

The Menahga water tower stands in the background of this 2018 Menahga Midsummer water war.

Street and sewer improvements

For a lump sum fee of $15,000, Ulteig will prepare a facility plan/preliminary engineering report that addresses “improvement needs to the sanitary sewer collection system, water distribution system and the street system. … The plan will cover the First St. SW and Balsam Ave. project, the Second St. N. area project, and a pipe lining and manhole rehabilitation project.”

This facility plan would then be submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) prior to March 4, 2022 for consideration for funding through the Clean Water Revolving Fund (CWRF).


Council member Durwin Tomperi asked if stormwater could be redirected away from Spirit Lake with this project.

Hiles said there are additional ways to filter sand and floatables from stormwater before it’s discharged into the lake, but there’s no other place to direct the stormwater.

Kreklau said money could come from the city’s water and sewer funds.

The council unanimously approved both of Ulteig’s proposals.

Energy, environment planning

They also approved a resolution stating the city aims to partner with Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) and others to complete a plan and implement energy- and environment-related projects. R5DC will apply in partnership with multiple cities to the USDA Rural Community Development Initiative for a two-year term and $200,000 in grant funding, accompanied by a 1:1 match from multiple sources totaling a $400,000 project. Furthermore, R5DC will craft an application on behalf of the city to Sourcewell’s Community Match Funds program for up to $10,000 to cover the city’s match.

If fully funded, Kreklau said the planning process could start in the third quarter of 2021.

“We’ll have a community group that looks around and does an actual study looking for projects that fall under this energy and environmental category, this big umbrella,” he continued. “It could be lighting at the beach. It could be a power generator. It could be some other energy-saving or conservation-style projects.”

The end result will be a five-year work plan with funds to complete the identified projects.


In other business, the council did as follows:

  • Held a public hearing to change council meetings from the second Tuesday of the month to the second Monday.

  • Clarified that a moratorium on payroll overtime and unnecessary city expenses does not apply to the police department.

  • Approved 2021 officers for Menahga Fire Department. They are Fire Chief Dave Kicker, Assistant Fire Chiefs Jim Day and Terry Berttunen, Capt. Eli Jettman, secretary Aaron Hillukka and treasurer Robert Weaver.

  • Requested more quotes to repair water damage to the city public works roof.

  • Requested proposals for an investment advisor for the city.

  • Asked the city administrator to research costs of a timeclock that will suit the needs of city employees by the March meeting.

  • Learned that second doses were administered at Greenwood Connections on Feb. 4. Administrator Laura Ahlf reported the facility has a 96 percent vaccination rate for residents and 25 percent for staff.

  • Tentatively set the city’s 2021 board of review for 1 p.m. Monday, April 19 at city hall.

  • Accepted Olson's resignation from the city planning commission and appointed Jeremiah Erickson to the vacancy.

  • Accepted Pam Johnson's resignation as assistant manager of Northbound Spirits.

  • Approved an ATM agreement with Community First Bank for an ATM at Northbound Spirits, contingent upon the $3 proceeds from each transaction being split 50-50 between the city and the bank.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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