Little Falls Public Works Director Greg Kimman sought input and guidance from the Little Falls City Council Monday on his latest infrastructure capital improvement plan.
Information provided in Monday’s council packet, said the city is responsible for 100 miles of roadways, 70 miles of water mains, 70 miles of sanitary sewer main and 50 miles of storm sewer. The city completes upgrades or replacements on existing infrastructure each year.
There are four restructuring projects slated for 2021:
• Third Street Southeast from First Avenue Southeast to Third Avenue Southeast and Third Avenue Southeast from Third Street to Fourth Street. The estimated cost is $900,000 of capital improvement funds;
• 11th Street Northeast from Trunk Highway 27 to Seventh Avenue Northeast. The estimated cost is $1.225 million, projected to be paid for by state aid and grant money;
• 18th Street Southeast from Mary Anne Avenue to 138th Street. The estimated cost is $3.4 million, with $2.1 million to be paid for through state aid and grant money and $1.3 million coming from capital improvement funds; and
• Oak Street. The estimated cost is $450,000 out of the capital improvement budget.
There is also $230,000 worth of slurry seal pavement replacement projects scheduled for 2021.
Council member Leif Hanson, who questioned the validity of the 18th Street project when it was first brought to the Council for discussion at the Nov. 2 meeting, was again skeptical about the importance of that project.
“Who is that going to serve?” Hanson asked. “Again, I’ve looked at this area on Beacon. I’ve driven up there a couple times. If we start from the north and work our way south, the first section of that, there’s (Faith Lutheran Church) and then there’s (KO Storage) and the big ditch of water until you get to Fifth Avenue Southeast. So, I don’t see any development happening there. Maybe on the southern end of the church property at some point, and then after that, south of that, it’s farm fields. We have a total project of $3.4 million if all this went through. I see projected grants, but even at $1.3 million, it doesn’t go anywhere.”
Kimman said the project would serve as more of a corridor for connectivity on 18th Street.
“When you look at Little Falls in terms of where the growth is happening — and it’s all outside of the city limits — it’s all on that southeast part of town,” he said.
Hanson said he appreciated Kimman’s willingness to look into the future, but felt 18th Street was more of a long-term project that should not be prioritized over other roads that need attention.
He said he heard from a resident in the southeast part of town who was working on a petition to get improvements done on Third Street Southeast from Third Avenue to Eighth Avenue. In the current plan, that project is slated for 2023 and would cost about $700,000 in capital improvement funds and $600,000 more in state aid.
Mayor Greg Zylka again expressed his support for the 18th Street project, citing that costs will continue to go up the longer it gets kicked down the road.
He later asked if the city could bond for some of the projects on the list, specifically 18th Street.
City Finance Officer Lori Kasella said bonding for 18th would be “tricky” because any bond would have to be deferred until all of the property used for the project was annexed into the city.
“All these needs; we could, everything on this list of projects is needed today,” said City Administrator Jon Radermacher.
“Obviously stuff is starting to deteriorate. Things are worse off than others so we try to prioritize with what we can and maximize the additional outside sources that we can bond, too,” Radermaacher said. “The assessment process is not the easiest and not the most fun for residents when they get those bills, either.”
Hanson said he believed the Third Street project on the docket for 2023 should be prioritized, as the road is in poor shape.
Council Member James Storlie agreed.
“I think Third Street on the southeast side, I think that should be moved up; it should be a priority item,” Storlie said. “If it can’t be used with grant money, then we should look at moving that other project if we can get the grant money there. But as far as doing this stuff in town, getting the citizens that are in town, getting them fixed up with proper roads and utilities should be our first course of action.”
Zylka said he would still check on getting state aid for the 18th Street project, but agreed Third Street should be a priority.
“So we have to see if we get the grant money,” said Council Member Raquel Lundberg, referring to the 18th Street project. “If we don’t get the grant money, we’re not doing the project, right?”
“Correct,” Kimman answered.
“If we don’t get grant money, we can do Third Street in 2021 instead?” Lundberg said.
Kimman said that would indeed be the case.
“I would be willing to look at trying to find a way to do both of them if we can get the grant money,” Zylka said. “I think that would be good.”
Little Falls City Council Briefs:
In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:
• Heard the 2019 Annual Police Report from Little Falls Police Chief Greg Schirmers;
• Heard an updated COVID-19 preparedness plan as it pertains to city employees;
• Accepted a change order deduction of $8,268.19 from Ryan Contracting Co., for the Sunrise Addition 3 project;
• Extended an ag lease agreement with Roger Lanners for land used by the Little Falls/Morrison County Airport until Dec. 2028;
• Authorized the execution of a lease agreement with the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau for use of the Rosenmeier property in 2021 at $0 monthly rent; and
• Adopted a resolution brought forth by the OurTown executive committee stating the group’s strategic priorities and final report;
The next meeting of the Little Falls City Council, a budget work session, is at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, via Zoom. Meetings can be accessed by visiting the City of Little Falls’ page on YouTube.