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Paynesville Press - November 9, 2005

City residents hear about 2006 street project

By Michael Jacobson

Five streets will be improved by the city of Paynesville during its 2006 Street Improvement Project. The city council held an informational meeting for affected residents on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

So far, the city has held a preliminary assessment hearing (in July), and SEH is preparing the final design of the streets, said city engineer Scott Hedlund of SEH. The project should be bid in January or February, he added, and construction should begin in April or May (depending on the contractor).

The project includes reconstructing Koronis Avenue (from Highway 23 to Mill Street); reconstructing Washburne Avenue (from Highway 23 to Mill Street); reconstructing Pomeroy Avenue (from Highway 23 to South Street); reconstructing the western two-thirds of South Street; and overlaying the south end of Central Avenue. Reconstruction includes tearing out the pavement and replacing sewer and water lines under the street before rebuilding the pavement, sidewalks, and curbs and gutters. Hedlund said that the first lift of bituminous should be in place by the end of August 2006.

Washburne Avenue will be narrowed, from 48 feet to 42 feet, during the project. Right now, the wider street allows for diagonal parking on both sides. Instead, the new narrower street will have parallel parking on both sides and a wider boulevard (13 feet on both sides).

South Street will be built at 32 feet not 36 feet as had been considered. Plans for South Street include a drive-over curb, due to its narrowness, and sidewalk on south side only, said Hedlund.

Koronis Avenue, Pomeroy Avenue, and Central Avenue will be rebuilt at the same widths. (While adding a sidewalk was proposed at one point for Pomeroy Avenue, it since has been eliminated.)

The project also includes a trail on Co. Rd. 34 (from Lake Land Villas to Lake Avenue) and on the east side of Lake Avenue (from Co. Rd. 34 to First Street).

"As most people know, with any construction it's going to be dusty, it's going to be dirty, and it's going to be muddy," said Hedlund. "We know people are going to be inconvenienced."

The contractor will need to leave one lane open to traffic every night, said Hedlund, and the city will try to let residents know when work is scheduled directly in front of their house. Residents may not be able to access their driveway on days when crew digs for and replaces the utility pipes on their street or when sidewalks are poured (as the concrete needs time to set).

The city plans to have a monthly newsletter to update residents and will try to let them know other specifics as needed. "We'll do our best to give you access," he said.

The city discussed a temporary road for Sunrise and Morningside avenues, which use South Street, but opted against it because it would cost money (which would add to the total cost of the project), said public works director Ron Mergen. The bid specifications state that the contractor must keep South Street bladed, he added.

South Street, because of its importance as a connecting street, will be a priority to finish fast, said Hedlund.

Residents should use alleys and side streets to access their homes whenever possible, the dozen people who attended the meeting were told.

When replacing the utilities, residents will also be hooked up to temporary water using hoses from fire hydrants. Residents should expect to have temporary water for two to three weeks, said Hedlund.

A dozen trees on South Street and a half dozen on Washburne Avenue will be lost during the project, said Mergen. The city will replace any lost tree with a new one-inch diameter tree (about 10-feet tall).

Residents asked a number of questions about the project, ranging from the quality of seeding to their eventual assessments.

Seeding, not sod, is planned for the project with the city using its own topsoil to hopefully yield better results. Resident Bud Wendroth said the seeding on Lake Avenue was not done well.

The subcontractor who does the seeding will have to water for a time, said Hedlund, and the seeding is under warranty until a "stand of grass" appears. Mergen said city could give breaks on water bills to residents who water the new grass.

How the project would affect Washburne Court was asked by city resident Doreen Schaefer, who works at the assisted-living facility. It would probably face some inconvenience like other residents, said Mergen, who stressed the importance of communication. If the city knows when Washburne Court might have special events, it can be sure to maintain access to its parking lot on Washburne Avenue.

Another questioner wondered about using the alley behind Washburne Court to access Highway 23, a move now prohibited for safety reasons. Using this alley could help residents and Washburne Court, a resident noted.

Another resident wanted to know how assessments for the project would be paid. Residents will have the options to pay in full, pay some of the assessment and put the rest on their taxes, or put all the assessments on taxes. The city has been doing these assessments over ten years at an interest rate based on what it gets for the project, said city administrator Steve Helget. Options for paying assessments will be outlined in the notices for the final assessment hearing, which will be held after the project is bid and completed next year, he added.

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