City Council goes ahead with project
In a special meeting Wednesday, the City Council voted 4-1 to go ahead with the Business Loop East reconstruction project.
The council voted to pay the entire 10 percent local share of the cost of constructing the main roadway and half the 20 percent local share of the frontage road. The vote lowers the cost to property owners in the area by an estimated $206,000.
However, if a parking lane is added to the south side of the frontage road, the property owners will have to pay 100 percent of the cost, which is estimated at $100,000.
Utility replacement constitutes the largest cost to the property owners along the roadway. The city will pick up 100 percent of the cost of replacing the main sanitary sewer line. Sewage from most of the city empties into this trunk line on its way to the main lift station and the wastewater treatment plant. Water and sewer mains serving the individual properties, however, would be assessed to those properties. The cost of replacing and improving the storm water sewer system in the area will be assessed to a slightly larger area of benefiting properties.
Mayor Clarice Liechty was the lone vote against the motion. She contended the cost of utilities was still too high for the property owners along Business Loop East. Most of the estimated $629,000 assessed to the property owners would be for utilities. She said she wanted to reduce more of the burden on them with a citywide assessment.
"(This would be) a start for the city to pick up more of the utility costs," Liechty said.
Several property owners agreed the cost of their assessments would be excessive if all the water and sewer work was done. Discussion by the City Council looked at different ways to lower those costs.
City Administrator Jeff Fuchs reminded council members that state law says the assessment must be based on the benefiting properties. It does not benefit any other property owner in the city to replace or improve individual utility services along Business Loop East.
Councilwoman Kelani Parisien said she could see paying the entire local share (10 percent) of the main roadway project, but couldn't agree to city taxpayers picking up more than that.
"As a city, the greatest concession we can make is 100 percent of the roadway," added Councilman Pat Nygaard.
The hours of discussion ranged through a variety of details, including the sidewalk, which is required if federal funds are used, the parking lane and access during construction.
Other issues raised were not doing the frontage road and whether the $300,000 water main serving the properties needed to be replaced. City Engineer Reed Schwartzkopf said it was 1953 when the main was put in. He said it would be a risk to leave it.
The decision by the council to pick up the entire local share of the main roadway means the property owners can not protest the project out, Fuchs said. However, because they pay a portion of the frontage road reconstruction, they could conceivably protest that.
Ulteig Engineering will start the design process on the Business Loop East roadway, with construction set for 2011. The reconstruction will change the road from rural to urban with curb, gutter and lighting.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org