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Blackduck Council addresses concerns at assessment hearing

Members of the business community were present at the assessment hearing for Industrial Lane during the Blackduck City Council meeting March 7.

Also present was the city's engineer Curt Meyer from Widseth Smith Nolting, to answer any questions the audience had in regards to the improvement project.

Industrial Lane is a 39' wide bituminous and curb and gutter street. According to Meyers' preliminary engineer's report, the street has experienced a significant amount of deterioration.

The street contains large potholes, excessive cracking and settlement in both the street, curb and gutter," the report states.

It also stated that the base material is no longer providing adequate support for the roadbed, therefore, reconstruction is needed.

"The estimated cost of the project is $152,424. The city's portion, which is DEED funded, amounts to $77,212 with the remaining $75,213 to be assessed to the other property owners over a 10 year period.

The reconstruction would consist of removing and replacing the existing road base, asphalt and curb and gutter. A 12" sub-cut would be made and the foundation will be stabilized with geotextile fabric, the report said.

The street will then be constructed of a 12" aggregate base and a 4" asphalt surface. Concrete curb and gutter will be installed to match at the existing driveways and provide accessible drainage of the street.

Meyer pointed out that all the property disturbed during construction will be restored to existing conditions or better.

The two businesses to be assessed for the street improvements would be Anderson Fabrics and Bi-County CAP which owns and operates Helping Hand Day Care.

Meyer explained the estimates to the group before he opened the floor to questions.

"The total project costs would be $152,425," he began. "The total estimated front footage is 1,235 feet of which, Bi-Cap has 300 ft. and Anderson Fabrics owns approximately 932 feet."

Meyer also explained that the amount assessed per front footage comes out to be around $60.90 per foot.

Steve Cochems, president of Anderson Fabrics, was concerned about asphalt prices due to the cost of oil rising. Meyer told him that with oil prices being so uncertain at this time, the bids for the improvement would be put on hold.

"Would that mean that the road would be done this summer or would it take longer?" Cochems asked.

Meyer responded that it would depend on variables such as the price of oil.

Cochems then asked if the road would be accessible during construction as it leads the Anderson's back parking area.

"Yes," Meyer assured him. "The road would be usable during construction. We would probably just block off one side at a time while the work was being done."

Greg Maish, also from Anderson Fabrics, asked Meyer about the drainage and how it would be addressed. He was concerned that, when the work was done, there would be swales at the end of the road and that would cause the water to pool around the back of the Anderson building and become a major problem.

Meyer assured him that the problem of the water pooling at the back of their building would be taken care of by way of ditch cleaning.

"We want to do some ditch cleaning and that should help with how the water will be drained off the road," Meyer said.

Because of the amount of the assessment, how the project would be financed was also addressed.

Cochems asked if, instead of the 3.5-4.5 percent interest for the 10 year period it will take to pay for the assessment, would the city be willing to allow zero percent interest on the assessment amounts.

Even though members from Bi-CAP were unable to attend the hearing, Deb Allison from Bi-CAP, called Blackduck City Administrator Karin Elhard with her concern that the day care would be quite impacted financially with the assessment.

"The city could use the Revolving Loan Fund," she said. "It has about $250,000 in it now. We should be able to find some creative financing for this project," she said.

After much brainstorming, the suggestion was made to have the Revolving Loan Fund committee see if they could use the estimated amount at zero percent.

Cochems told the council that he understood the need for the assessment and thanked the council for their input and for acknowledgement his concerns over the project before he and Maish took their leave and the hearing was closed.