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Preston moves forward with 2008 street improvements


Fri, May 23rd, 2008
Posted in Government

Brett Grabau of Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlick and Associates, the city's consulting engineers, detailed the plans and estimates for the 2008 street improvements at the council's May 19 meeting. Mayor Kurt Reicks was absent.

Grabau noted that the city's staff and engineers had designated four areas for the 2008 work including a section of Industrial Drive as requested by the property owners, Chatfield Avenue which was rated as "High Priority," the St. Anthony/Mill Street designated as a maintenance project, and Jefferson Street which is also designated as "High Priority." Because of budget concerns, the Jefferson Street area was eliminated from this year's projects. City Administrator Joe Hoffman remarked that Jefferson Street is still considered as "High Priority" but that work in the other three areas constitutes the best use of available funds at this time.

Grabau noted that the work on Chatfield Avenue will include curb and gutter and a sidewalk to tie into the new tennis courts and the sidewalk installed as part of the Hwy 52 project. Most all of the work on St. Anthony Street and Mill Street will be considered to be maintenance work except for the intersection and would not involve assessments on property owners. Industrial Drive and Chatfield Street will require assessments on property owners (about seven or eight) and assessments will be assigned according to the city's assessment policy.

The estimated total costs of the projects is $198,107.25 with about $21,000 for Industrial Drive, $140,800 for Chatfield Avenue, and over $35,000 for the maintenance on St. Anthony/Mill Streets. Hoffman suggested that the city will have to make funds available from street fund and reserves to pay for the work and collect the assessments to rebuild the fund for future projects. He expects there could be a temporary shortfall of about $20,000 depending on the actual bids. Grabau explained that a lot of the cost on Chatfield Avenue is the sidewalk. Public Utility Director Bill Cox said that the $5,000 set aside for 2008 sidewalks would be made available for this sidewalk. He added that enough people currently walk on Chatfield Avenue to warrant the installation of the sidewalk.

Council member Jon Haugan asked Hoffman if he was comfortable borrowing from the city fund at this time for the projects. Hoffman said that he was.

Mayor Pro-tem Heath Mensink asked if there would be parking on Chatfield Avenue. Grabau said that the plans don't allow for parking, but that the Avenue will be greatly improved for traffic, especially for school buses. He suggested that there will be parking on Hillside Drive.

The council adopted a resolution to go ahead with the project schedule and set a public hearing for June 16. If all goes according to schedule the construction would start on August 4 with substantial completion on September 16.

Audit

Tom Wente of Smith, Schafer and Associates issued a clear opinion on the city's financial statement. He noted that it is in legal compliance with the state statutes and that the "books are in good shape." Thirty-seven percent of the city's revenues come from property taxes with the rest coming from grants (33%), charges for services (13%), capital grants and contributions (4%), operating grants and contributions (3%), gain on sale of property (1%), other (3%), and TIF taxes (6%). The reports summary confirmed that "all debt service funds are being adequately funded and all outstanding bonds are being paid on a timely basis."

Hoffman noted that the audit report is due by the end of June. He recognized Sheila Marzolf and the city staff for the great job they did in helping to prepare the audit report. The council approved the 2007 audit report as presented.

Ostern Complaint

Kevin Ostern reported on his efforts to be reimbursed for damages that he insists were caused by negligence during the street improvement work of 2007 on Brownsville Street. His claim has been denied by Preston's insurance company and by Rochester Sand and Gravel's (the contractor) insurance company.

Brett Grabau explained that an "inverted crown" was to be made on the street to control water run-off according to the original bid with Rochester Sand and Gravel. The contractor requested that changes to the plans be made which were approved by Bonestroo, the city's engineering consultants, as the street was not wide enough to create the "inverted crown" with the equipment used by the contractor. Grabau said that the work was not done correctly the first time as represented by Bonestroo and was corrected at the expense of the contractor at a later date to better protect the downstream side. He also noted that "inverted crowns" are more difficult to plow.

Ostern claimed that in 25 years, he did not have problems with water running into his yard and basement. He maintains that the faulty work originally done by Rochester Sand and Gravel caused water to flood his basement and cause a sinkhole in his yard. He has requested about $3,000 for basement damages and about $2,000 for the sinkhole damages. He is satisfied with the work completed by Rochester Sand and Gravel after the correction. However, he is seeking relief for the damages incurred after the first work which he feels caused the problem before the corrections were made. Ostern suggests that the contractor's willingness to correct the problem is an admission of causing a problem.

Mensink insisted that the city is not liable. Hoffman agreed that the city acted in good faith. The city hired the engineer who made a plan and who agreed to an alternate plan. He suggested that the first paving was an improvement, but not as the contractor had agreed to. Hoffman added that this is why contractors are required to have insurance.

Hoffman asked City Attorney Dwight Luhmann for his opinion. Luhmann didn't think the city was in a position to pressure the contractor to settle the claim. Luhmann suggested that Ostern go to Conciliation Court. Ostern insisted that he paid the city his $2500 assessment in full and that he should not have to spend money for an attorney. Luhmann said that Conciliation Court requires a minimal fee of $65 and does not require a complainant to have an attorney. He added that the city cannot do it for you. Ostern responded that he notified the city immediately of the problem. Sand bags were placed in an attempt to divert water. He feels both Rochester Sand and Gravel and Bonestroo Engineering are at fault for the damage to his home and yard.

Grabau suggested that the excessive rain caused the problem. He expected that if no work had been done that the flooding would have been worse. Ostern disagreed and said that prior to any work being done, rain water washed down the middle of the street and after the initial work was done, water ran toward his house. Ostern insisted that the damage occurred prior to the widespread area flooding in August. The second remill and partial overlay correcting the problem was done in September.

Ostern said that everyone is denying responsibility. Luhmann said that his claim should be with Rochester Sand and Gravel. No action was taken by the council.

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