Public weighs in on project

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council heard from residents Monday about the proposed Second Street reconstruction planned for this summer.

The project will include seven blocks, from Holland Street on the west edge of town to Gorman Street. Bids will be taken in April, with construction slated to begin in May.

The project will be a “full reconstruct,” according to city engineer Wes Brown, who explained how it will affect streets; water and sewer lines; trees; and other aspects.

One focus is the block north of the Faribault County Courthouse, between Nicollet and Main. Brown said that in its current state, there is only 16 feet in the center of the street for driving. The required standard is 24 feet. If the street is not widened, parking on the north side could be changed to parallel, leaving 27 stalls.

Preliminary assessments have been sent out to residents, but the city won’t know the final assessments until the end of the project in 2015.

Residents will cover 30 percent of the cost of street and sidewalks.

Water main costs will total $475,700, with the city paying $370,100 and property owners $105,600.

Sanitary sewer costs will total $307,400, with the city paying $239,700 and property owners $67,700.

Storm sewer costs will be $142,500, with the charges added to the storm sewer fee.

Street costs will total $976,200, with the city paying $715,800 and the property owners $260,400.

Sidewalk construction will total $185,200, with the city paying $151,700 and property owners $33,500.

Homeowners had questions about nearly every aspect of the project.

Brown said homeowners can get credit if they have documentation they have replaced their sidewalk in the past 15 years.

Sewer lines will be replaced to the back of the sidewalk, which is in the right of way. If homeowners want to replace the sewer line on their own property, it can be done during construction.

“Good time to do it,” Brown advised.

He said the lines will be televised, and city administrator Kathy Bailey cautioned homeowners to find out whether they have lead lines.

Brown expects water shutdowns of four to six hours at the most.

Trees were a hot topic.

A number of trees along the street will be taken out, Brown and Bailey noted.

“Those individuals [who] lose a tree get a new tree,” Bailey said.

The replacement trees are maples.

Homeowners also can choose not to replace trees.

Sidewalks will be replaced where they are taken out, but if there was not one in the first place, no sidewalk will be added.

Brown said it is up to the contractor whether to tear up the street all at once or do it in sections. Residents will be allowed to park on side streets or alleys during construction.

The street will not be fully done until the final overlay, which is always put on in the second year, Bailey said.

Residents can choose to make full or partial payments, otherwise the work will be assessed in taxes for 15 years.

Bailey said residents who want ongoing construction updates can provide City Hall with their e-mail addresses.

The council approved ordering improvements and advertising for bids on the Second Street project.

Michele Wigern of Soil and Water explained how rain gardens could be incorporated into the Second Street construction project. There will be a workshop at 6 p.m. April 29 for those residents interested in installing one.

In other business, the council:

o Had the first reading of the Joint Powers Animal Control Agreement. The council will discuss it at the next meeting.

o Acknowledged the retirement of Middy Thomas as director of the Senior Center.

The council approved asking the Senior Center board of directors whether a full-time director is needed or if a different type of staffing would work better. Some members of the council thought library staff can be utilized.