The City of Rushford, upon review of engineering estimates, has opted not to look further into the buyout of two bluff properties within the city limits. Purchase of the two homes, located on Lamplighter Lane, was discussed at the earlier August meeting as the city grappled with how to address the failing roadway. The homes sit perched on the east Rushford bluff, part of a four-part subdivision that saw construction on only two lots in the late 1970s and are accessed only by the steeply pitched lane.
Options before the city at the Monday, August 28 meeting included the possible buyout and road reconstruction. The buyout option included purchase of the homes, of which one is for sale, demolition/removal, and road removal. The second option was initially thought to be cost prohibitive. After further study by Brian Malm, Project Engineer for Bolton & Menk, the city council was presented with an estimated breakdown of costs and came to a consensus for the latter.
Alternative B, road removal, was estimated upwards of $40,000, including $102,000 for road removal. Home purchases were estimated by Mike Bubany, financial consultant for the city, at $280,000. Additional costs related to analyzation of building materials for asbestos could add another $6,000-14,000, including $4,000 for the testing. The watermain could be abandoned in place, but the sanitary sewer lines would require sand filling and disconnection and plugging to prevent infiltration and inflow in the rest of the system.
Alternative A, reconstruction, is estimated to cost $186,000, which could be bonded for at an estimated 2.8% rate for a 10-year term. This includes addressing the underground utility. Water and sanitary sewer mains were televised by Public Works in 2007 and have had no issues since the subdivision’s construction. However, Malm indicated the peak lifespan of such utilities is 40 years. In street reconstruction, it’s typically recommended to upgrade underground utility if possible to avoid cutting into the road later with costly patches.
Lamplighter Lane, however, offers an unusual solution in that the watermain can be replaced at a later date without tearing into a street with a process known as pipe bursting. Essentially, a pipe can be sliced and a new, larger main pulled through without disturbing the surface, save for the service ends, which are at the top in the cul-de-sac and at the bottom of the lane.
Likewise, sanitary sewer mains can be addressed using Cured-In-Place Pipe, another method that places another pipe within the old through inflation of plastic pipe. Both of the methods are traditionally more costly that open-cut work, but due to the lack of additional service lines and the overall length of the road, it is favorable in this project.
“The pavement is heavily deteriorated. It’s outlived its life,” said Malm. Further details of the road, provided by a Public Works video indicated the road is poorly crowned, causing directional water flow issues. If water were to get enough force beneath the 17-18% slope of the road, it could potentially slough large pieces of bituminous pavement down to the road and properties below. “A typical maximum you’d want to maintain is 5% [slope],” added Malm. “We reached the point of needed reconstruction several years ago.”
“It’s now an operational problem right now. We could address the pavement and leave the utility alone,” said Malm. The council debated whether the city could afford to take in assumptions, leaving the utilities alone. The option of a phased project was also discussed, but it was suggested the city should consider all at once if possible.
Typically, road projects are assessed to the property owners at a rate of 20-30%, per city policy. Road projects often include multiple road projects in an effort to get an economy of scale on contracting bids as well as bringing down both city and assessment costs. Because of the type of bond proposed, the city would not be able to assess the properties for the road.
The city is not anticipating any other road projects until 2019/2020, but it’s unknown if the road can wait that long. “At a bare minimum, it needs to be resurfaced,” said Public Works Director Roger Knutson. “It’s beyond gone. It is unsafe.”
“It’s a lot less than I thought it would be,” added Mayor Chris Hallum. The city will look further into street reconstruction bond authority as a way to free the city from the need of having to add another street to wrap into the project.
In other news, the council approved two change orders for the aircraft fueling system at the municipal airport. The recommendations by the airport commission included an upgrade to the credit card reader for the fuel pumps for improved maintenance and serviceability, addition of a gate and road access for easier fueling offload, at a city cost of $800. Also approved was the soliciting for Requests for Qualifications for professional on-call airport engineering and planning services. Currently, the city contracts with Mead & Hunt, but the contract expires in October. Because of federal funding, the city is required to seek the RFQs every five years. It’s expected the city could get proposals from Mead & Hunt, of Eau Claire, Wis., Bolton & Menk and Widseth Smith Nolting, both of Rochester.
During the time for public comment, Loken’s Rushford Inn co-owner Eileen Loken brought forth concerns related to events within the community having an impact on her business. Both noise and parking are issues that Loken believes are hindering the inn’s business. The city has a noise ordinance, but Loken insisted that music during Rushford Days and Relay for Life go well into the night, disturbing inn guests. Limited parking during those events congests the area for inn patrons as well.
“It’s a major issue and needs to be dealt with,” said Loken. “It’s not working. It’s another obstacle in front of us. What are we to do? It’s creating negative consequences on us.”
Loken asked that the city and event planners include her in planning. “I want to be part of the discussion. I need your help. I would like to think you’d like us to keep our doors open.” Loken suggested that perhaps the downtown depot/trail location is not the most suited location for the events.
City Administrator Tony Chladek noted he’d indicated the Relay for Life planners would be involving Loken in the planning process. He couldn’t speak directly to the Rushford Days events which are planned by a local group of volunteers.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, September 11, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.