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Peterson continues County 25 discussion

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Sep 20th, 2013
Posted in Peterson Government

The massive project slated for County Road 25, running through the heart of Peterson, Minn. continues to see more questions. The county is eager to get the project underway in 2014, but has said it is willing to wait until the following year. “Waiting could be beneficial, but nobody can predict what’s going to happen,” said Bryan Holtz,” of Yaggy Colby, the engineering and consulting firm assisting with the project. Currently, the county has a 50 percent share policy on a portion of the project and although it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, the policy is subject to change. In addition, material costs could increase.

The city consensus, according to mayor pro tem Dick Lee, appears to be starting the project next year, as planned. The final decision on a timeline will be made at a later date. For now, the city is trying to iron out any potential hiccups that could disrupt the project or cause unforeseen additional costs.

One large unknown that is looming is the condition of the city’s water main. One hundred years old, it could potentially sustain damages during road work. While there are no known issues with the main, construction activity atop the roadway, in the absence of load bearing asphalt could literally shake things up.

Water testing will be conducted, including hydrants, but it’s not clear if it will tell the city anything about the overall condition of the pipes. Holtz stated that the city would likely have problems already if the pipes were in poor condition, but without knowing the depth of composition of the pipes, making a determination of what will be needed is difficult. The total project cost will go up significantly if the water main is added in. For now, the city will proceed with testing and make the decision of whether or not to include the water main in the project at a later date.

Another key issue is underground wiring along the roadway. It appears that there’s a possibility for the wiring having been laid years ago without a protective conduit of some sort. “We need to make sure when everything else is torn up,” stressed Lee. Electrical work could be coordinated with on the project, but the city will need to consult with MnDOT.

The county, according to Holtz, is not keen on the city’s request for sidewalks on the west side of South Church Street. Instead, the county would prefer that the a stripe for a pedestrian lane be painted on the side of the roadway. In addition, signage and a crosswalk would be designated. “It’s food for thought,” added Holtz.

Due to the change in road elevation in some spots, curb and gutter, which is done by machine, will be redone to match. This will require that sidewalks and hydrants along Mill Street be replaced as well. Both the sidewalks and ped ramps will be ADA compliant for which the city is paying half of the $32,000 cost. For now, Fillmore County is planning on replacing all to improve overall functionality.

The total project cost is currently estimated at $212,438 and Peterson’s cost is estimated at approximately $193,500. Depending on how the project is financed, the city may be required to assess property owners. Using GIS site measurements, it appears the city has 2,729.19 of private property footage along County 25. At roughly $17.78 per foot, the average parcel assessment would be $1,200, but could be larger or smaller depending on actual parcel front footage, according to Councilor Bill Grindland.

“It’s not set in stone, but it may be required,” added Holtz. “It’s typical to assess taxes for the same duration as bond. Property owners can pay it off or let it go on their taxes.” In all 41 parcels will be affected.

The city currently has no assessment policy, but one will need to be adopted prior to the project. Several financing options are available including general obligation bonds, a Rural Water seven-year microloan or 15-year midiloan, tax levy, or cash reserves.

In other news, the city has set the preliminary levy for 2014 at a 3 percent increase or $72,100. Certifying that amount to the county leaves the city the option of upping the budget, should projects dictate it, or reducing it for the final levy certification in December.

“It’s preliminary. We can go down, but we can’t go up, and we might have more expenses next year than we might expect,” cautioned Lee.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, October 9, at 7 p.m., at City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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