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Paynesville Press - July 31, 2002

Lake Avenue residents get a break

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Stormwater improvements along Lake Avenue will cost the city much less than anticipated, meaning assessments for homeowners should be much lower, too.

At a public hearing on Wednesday, July 24, city engineer Pete Carlson announced that he had just received word that the state was going to pay 100 percent of the construction costs involved with upgrading the stormwater sewer along Lake Avenue.

The price tag for the stormwater sewer improvement project is estimated at $250,000. The state has agreed to pay about $200,000.

The original estimate for the city's share of the project was $176,000, including $81,000 from the state. Now the city will be responsible only for the cost of land for a retention pond, for legal fees, for survey fees, and for interest on any bonds the city uses.

The city's share now is expected to be only $50,000.

The announcement came as a pleasant surprise to the two dozen Lake Avenue residents and business owners who attended the meeting because they were concerned about assessments for the project.

An assessment roll prepared by Carlson was sent to each resident before the meeting. Carlson had estimated the assessment to be a maximum of $21.99 per foot of frontage property based on his original estimate. Now, the assessments could be much lower, probably under $10 per foot and possibly under $5 per foot.

Carlson had estimated the state would pay for 40 percent of the stormwater project and expected the state to pay up to 60 percent.

City administrator Steve Helget was surprised to find the state will pay for all of the construction costs. "I was floored," he said. "I never expected more than 60 percent."

The state will pay for the county to upgrade Lake Avenue before it turns the street back to the county. While road construction is under way, starting this summer, the city wants to improve the stormwater sewer system along the street. The improvements will include a roughly four acre retention pond to hold stormwater until it seeps into the ground.

The city's share of the project could be even less than $50,000 since a contribution from the North Fork Crow River Watershed District (NFCRWD) is still expected. The watershed district had agreed to contribute $50,000 toward the project, but after Carlson's announcement a NFCRWD representative said the watershed district would have to decide on a new amount.

The state's contribution relieves the city of a sticky situation. The council had already decided not to assess for street construction. It wanted to assess for stormwater improvements but much of the benefitting properties were located in Paynesville Township, where the city can't assess.

Now, with the state's contribution and money from the watershed district, the city's share should be relatively minimal.

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