road construction MT

BIG LAKE - Brandon Backes says he’s tired of the broken promises coming from Big Lake City Hall.

The Powell Street resident says he and his neighbors have been told for years that their street will be repaired.

And for years, Powell Street improvements have been pushed aside for other projects, Backes says.

Backes addressed the Big Lake City Council at its April 22 meeting.

“I’ve also been told it’s on the docket for next year- and when next year rolls around, I’m told the same thing,” Backes told city counselors.

Powell Street residents were hopeful of street improvements this year. In December, the Big Lake City Council moved forward in ordering final plans and specifications for a proposed $3.73 million street and utility improvement plan that is scheduled to take place during the 2020 construction season. Powell Street, from Hiawatha Avenue to Glenwood Avenue, was in the plan.

But when bids were open on April, project costs were not as favorable as city staff estimated with asphalt pavement and pipe prices higher than expected. 

At a recent city council workshop the council agree to revisit the road project bid issue at its May 13 meeting.

With a goal of seeing Powell Street improvements this construction season, Backes created a petition and collected signatures from property owners of Powell Street and adjacent Will Street.

The petition asks if they want a new road and sidewalks while informing them what the estimated assessments might be,” Backes told the Council.

Backes says the results were overwhelming.

“Over 90 percent were in favor of the road improvements and sidewalk while understanding the costs,” he said.

Additionally, Backes told the Council that while collecting signatures for the petition, many shared that they, too, were given the same empty promises that Backes says he received from City Hall. He also was told stories about a lack of safety on the street while cars are driving on its long, windy road.

“I realize the City has funding challenges but we can’t continue to keep pushing Powell down the road- or cutting corners,” Backes said. 

“I ask the City Council to please continue the Powell Street project in full as previously discussed,” he said.

That includes street improvements with sidewalk and gutters, Backes said.

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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