There’s activity on the site of Minnetrista’s proposed water tower as surveyors start cleaning up the ditch and prepare for soil boring in the week ahead.

Representatives from S.E.H. Engineering presented the site plan and broke down the next steps for the tower’s construction during the city’s Aug. 5 city council meeting.

Minnetrista City Council finalized the purchase of the 2.02-acre site in April. The plot on the north side of Highway 7 just west of Hunter’s Trail will eventually include a water treatment plant as well and, if needed, a ground well.

The 500,000-gallon water tower comes with an estimated $2.46 million price tag and will be part of the city’s south water system. City officials had decided on the tower both to meet growing population demands and for better fire suppression in the city’s southwest, said Michael Barone, city administrator for Minnetrista.

The water tower project is well into the preliminary design stage. Bids should be awarded in January with construction to be completed next summer and painting the following year, according to the schedule as laid out by S.E.H.

The tower is one part of a much larger water supply overhaul that also called for two water treatment plants, one each for the city’s north and south water systems. A water main was also part of the project and was laid down in 2016, connecting the city’s south and central water systems.

Mayor Lisa Whalen and Councilmember Mike Molitor asked to be kept apprised of each step in the process for sake of transparency.

Discussion of the larger overhaul dates back to 2012 and has at times left a bad taste in the mouth. The spigot really opened in the spring of 2014 when the city complied with two data practices act requests prompted by what some residents had deemed a lack of transparency in the multimillion dollar project.

Between that dust up and the larger project’s lengthy trajectory (Barone estimated it will be another five to 10 years before the additional water treatment plant is built), an absence of regular reports could mean a step missed along the way.

Councilmember Shannon Bruce questioned whether the council had even approved the south system water tower in the first place. “I don’t remember ever voting as a council to build a water tower,” said Bruce.

Barone said it was a previous council that had made the approval.

Prior to the end of 2016, when the north system’s water treatment plant was completed, all Minnetrista residents who relied on the city water supply had to treat the water themselves, Barone said. The second treatment plant, servicing the south side, was completed in February 2017.

Population growth projections based on numbers from the Metropolitan Council and included in the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan show Minnetrista’s estimated population growing by between 180 and 200 people each year through 2025 and potentially reaching a total population of 12,000 by 2040.

The projection data also estimate that average daily water usage could double from the current year’s 620,000 gallons per day to 1.24 million gallons per day.

Much of the city’s current growth has been happening in neighborhoods serviced by the south water system, including Hunter’s Crest and the recent Woodland Cove development, said Barone, who estimated that 19 of every 20 new homes built in Minnetrista recently have gone up in that service area.

2020 ROAD PROJECTS

Councilmembers also discussed Monday a slate of possible road projects for 2020. The only consensus was on prioritizing the reclamation of Lakeview Drive and the replacement of a nearby force main.

“She’s pretty patched up but was built in 1972,” said Molitor. “The city got its money out of it.”

The proposed project as outlined in a presentation from the public works department would also include adjoining Shady Lane and Margaret Circle.

Second tier projects are still up in the air.

Mayor Whalen said she favors digging into the large-scale paving of Minnetrista’s hard scrabble roads, a project that she said keeps resurfacing over the years but that also keeps getting pushed back.

One option floated by Molitor would be to tack on smaller projects ala carte to fill the budget after the Lakeview project is covered.

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