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New Rushford trail nearly a reality


By Kirsten Zoellner

Mon, Apr 2nd, 2012
Posted in Rushford All

The proposed trail extension, which the city has fought diligently for, is now one step closer to reality. Tied to the existing Root River State Trail, the recreational draw is expected to run north from the current trail, along the eastern top of the levee system, past Creekside Park and the Hoiland Mill, and connecting with the Magelssen Bluff Trail System. The trail will also run south from the trail, along the west side levee system, following the joining of the Rush Creek and Root Rivers.

The city had hoped to have the trail cross under the north end Rush Creek bridge, but the Army Corps of Engineers denied their request citing downstream water flow impacts. A cooperative effort between Barr Engineering and Yaggy Colby and Associates conducted a hydraulic analysis, as well as a seepage and stability analysis, and the design was forcibly changed several times. Yaggy Colby has now finalized plans, drawings, and project manuals and the city will be accepting construction bids. Results of the bids are expected as early as April 9, if there are no complications.

“We will need to ensure that the levees are certified at the correct height prior to the laying of the trail,” noted City Administrator Steve Sarvi. “There’s a coordinated effort needed.”

According to David Strauss of Yaggy Colby, the project bid will be separated into two sections, north and south. One reason for this bid split is to allow some leeway for the project should the trail south and west of the railroad bridge crossing be deemed unacceptable to land owners. A meeting between the city and land owners will take place prior to any work on the trail.

Weather permitting, the construction would begin in May and finish as early as July 13, just prior to the Rushford Days celebration.

In other news, Witt’s Pharmacy & Long Term Care has received approval from the Economic Development Authority and the city to allow for the sale of the business to Astrup Drug of Owatonna. The sale includes the assumption of two EDA business loans. Tom Witt intends to pay the early 10 percent balance on all loans at closing, with regular loan payments continuing until then.

According to EDA chairman Jim Wolter, the long term care portion of the business will be located in Owatonna. However, the retail facility will stay in Rushford, along with local jobs.

City Attorney Terry Chiglo insisted that proceeding with the approval of the sale would put the city in a better position financially, as having Astrup Drug assume the loans, Witts will still retain responsibility if overall default occurs. Essentially, the city has more people to recoup funds from if a default would occur.

The sale could close as early as this May. The council thanked Tom and Vicki Witt for their years of service to the community.

The city has also approved the awarding of one portion of the four electrical project bids recently taken. While two of the bids are for required FEMA recertification of the levee system, the other two bids are for planned electrical upgrades by the Rushford Municipal Electric Commission and were offered as potential projects within the bid to garner better bid results. The bids were to be paid on unit, rather than a whole, so the city could proceed only with portions based on existing funding levels.

“These were outstanding bids,” noted Sarvi. “Let’s get these projects done. They’re the last major piece in a decade of work.” Sarvi also noted the upgrades would make the system safer and more efficient.

The project will include the upgrade of electrical systems, including underground installation, and will cost $73,000. The first two required projects total $643,341, of which $636,000 the city has already bonded for. The city’s portion of that required work cannot exceed that amount.

The city also continues to ponder its scheduled move to the vacant former Municipal Liquor Store. Entering into an agreement with CRW Architecture & Design Group for professional design services for the renovation of the municipal liquor store, the city has been told to expect three potential designs for the converted facility.

Councilor Roger Colbenson questioned the need for an architect to facilitate the conversion. “It’s necessary if we want to use any USDA funds,” responded Sarvi. “If not, I’d still strongly recommend we use an architect,” he continued.

The schedule for the project is fairly aggressive and Sarvi has been in contact with USDA, who will have to be notified of any changes in the work prior to it commencing. It’s expected that besides some deconstruction, interior walls will need modification, as will plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems. Bidding could come as early as April.

The items in the facility have been catalogued for impending sale. The profit from the sale of furniture and fixtures could be designated to pay for a portion of the project or to pay down the deficit in the city’s liquor fund.

“I encourage us to keep costs of the project well below estimations,” stressed Councilor Vern Bunke. “I think we should avoid borrowing any more money.”

The city is eligible for borrowed USDA funds, which could be paid back to USDA at any time without penalty. “It depends on our cost needs,” said Sarvi. The city plans to have as many “rational” funding options as possible for consideration prior to selecting any design process.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, April 9, at 6:30pm, at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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