The Little Falls City Council approved a resolution Monday for sidewalk improvement projects totaling $12,759.
The vote was unanimous following a public hearing during which two residents spoke, but none opposed the project. The improvements will be on portions of sidewalks adjoining 17 different streets in the downtown and east side of Little Falls, along with some complaint-driven locations.
Assessments will cover 83% — $10,524 — of the project while the remaining 17% — $2,235 — will be paid for by the city.
Public Works Director Greg Kimman said the city tries to do sidewalk work in about one-third of the city every year.
“In 2019, we did not do the sidewalk project because we had such a large downtown project with Trunk Highway 27,” Kimman said. “Then, in 2020, we again didn’t do anything. COVID came around and threw everything up in the air. We haven’t been able to do this for the last couple years, so we’re starting to get back into the routine again to do these sidewalk projects.”
The main reason behind the project is to eliminate any potential tripping hazards or areas that don’t meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements. Anything with a quarter-inch lip up or down or a quarter-inch gap constitutes a tripping hazard and doesn’t meet ADA standards, according to Kimman.
In all, the city plans to replace 600 square feet of sidewalk and grind another 50 feet. Grinding can be done in areas where one panel is higher than another and can be ground down to make it flush. It will also do site restoration in the areas where sidewalk is replaced.
The city’s current policy states that property owners are 100% responsible for the costs of sidewalk replacement, which is why 83% will be paid for through assessments. The 17% that is covered by the city will be on city-owned property, mainly in the downtown area of town.
Current estimates project a cost to property owners of $13.90 per square foot of replacement, $16.95 per foot of grinding and $200 per square foot of patching.
“All of these can fluctuate depending on bid prices,” Kimman said. “We have not bid the project yet, so we’d be looking at obtaining bids probably in about a month here if this moves forward to see where everything actually falls.”
Properties adjoining the work are projected to be assessed at 4% interest over five years. The city of Little Falls does give homeowners the opportunity to do the repair work themselves or hire their own contractors. The only requirements are that they get a permit — which is free — and have the work completed by June 1.
“At that point, we would ask that our contractor begin work after the June 1 timeline so that we can get it done in this construction season and not impact a lot of activities, whether it be the Arts and Crafts Fair or school,” Kimman said. “That’s kind of what we’re looking at.”
Residents age 65 and older who meet income guidelines, can qualify for deferrments on any assessments applied to their property. The same goes for Minnesota National Guard or military members who are called into active duty.
The current timeline is to order the contract in May, with construction wrapping up by August. A final assessment hearing will be held in September or October.
Christine Kalis, who lives on First Street Northeast, spoke at the public hearing to get clarification on the assessment process.
“Are you going to send a bill so I can have an option, or (will you) have it go on my homeowners?” Kalis asked.
“We would send a notice in the September timeframe indicating what the total amount would be,” Kimman said.
Little Falls City Council Briefs:
In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:
• Discussed a new business prospect — an expansion at Barrett Petfood Innovations — in the Chief Hole in the Day Industrial Park;
• Heard the Little Falls Fire Department’s 2020 annual report;
• Held a public hearing regarding city of Pierz money that will be used in Little Falls for a project conducted by Horizon Health. No residents gave comment and the resolution passed;
• Approved expending $33,136.10 for the purchase of a portable generator for the wastewater treatment plant;
• Approved the purchase of four turnout coats and pants, five helmets with lights and two pairs of boots for firefighters with the Little Falls Fire Department at a cost of $11,938.70;
• Set a public hearing for April 19, regarding an addition to 14th Street Southeast in connection with a proposed apartment complex;
• Approved hiring recommendations for Daniel Owens to a full-time patrol officer position, William Holman for a full-time park maintenance position and Joseph Sobania for a full-time utility technician position;
• Received resignations from firefighters Joseph Wiczek and Matthew Hurt, along with Golf Course Manager Rich Frey;
• Received a request from Falls Energy Owner Amy Wettstein for 10-minute parking from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday - Friday at 106 Broadway East;
• Approved a resolution revoking and redesigning certain municipal state aid streets;
• Approved a large scale street and sidewalk license for the West Side Improvement Association’s West Little Falls Antiques and Collectibles Fair, to be held Sept. 11 - 12;
• Accepted a temporary construction easement from Independent School District 482 for improvements on Pine Avenue; and
• Approved a conditional use permit for Denron Properties LLC to establish a professional retail clothing store at 607 Seventh St. NE.
The next meeting of the Little Falls City Council is at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 5, at Little Falls City Hall.