There’s a lot of work done at the city level. Some projects are small and others big. For their April 12 meeting, the Norwood Young America city council heard a few updates on some large projects, including a presentation from commissioner John Fahey about the construction of Highway 212 and the results of the Food Retail and Commercial Market Study for the Econofoods site.

Fahey was up first with an update regarding 212. According to Fahey, there are currently no planned major closures of the highway for the upcoming construction season. While there are no closures planned on 212, there are roads connecting to it that will have to be closed for construction purposes.

Kelly Ave is planned to be closed for one month, as well as Highway 43 South. Highway 43 North has a lot of work to be done, and will be closed for three months. While this is all going on, be sure to keep an eye on detour signs and know a few alternate routes to get to your destination as safely as possible.

There are three stages to the 212 project. This year will see the first stage, starting in May of this year. The work planned for this year is all the work off the highway itself in preparation for laying down the new lanes, shoulders, and turning lanes. Stage 2 won’t begin until next May, but this is when the traffic shifts will begin as they will be laying down the pavement. Stage 3 is also scheduled to take place next year, just flipping the traffic shift over.

The project is estimated to cost the county $28 million. There is some great news, despite the high number. First, this was about 30 percent lower than what the county thought it would cost, according to Fahey. The second is, thanks to that money save, the county sales tax going into the project has gone from $12 million down to half a million. The rest of the funds have been now allocated to the second phase of the project instead.

“It’s very good news,” said Fahey. “We were very surprised and happy that the bids came in this low.”

As this was a presentation, there was no approval needed for this update, but the council thanked Fahey for coming out to NYA to give them an update.

Moving onto the Commercial Market Study, Economic Development and Marketing Director Karen Hallquist presented the information from the survey to the council. According to Hallquist, this project started in August of 2020, with the city also adding on a Retail Food Study as part of this project. While COVID did slow this process down, the studies have come to an end and reports are ready to review.

As part of the study, the company Keith Wicks and Associates first examined the commercial area, which expanded roughly seven miles. They determined that the Econofoods building was far too large for this area (over 25000 sq. ft) in order to be profitable. Wicks and Assc. determined that NYA and the surrounding towns would be better served by a smaller grocer, roughly 13000 sq. ft. The store could be a smaller company or a co-op, and would have to serve about 5000 per week in order to stay afloat.

“Chain grocers just unfortunately don’t have that market that we need for our small town, rural area,” said Hallquist.

Unfortunately, this is a hurdle. Searching for an independent grocer, according to Wick’s study, would take upwards of 18 months. In order to help with this process, the West Carver Food Retail Committee put out a survey to determine what the community wanted from a grocery store. It is important to note that the committee is looking is looking at co-op specifically while the city is looking for a grocer company.

The study didn’t just examine the site for a possible grocer. They also looked at NYA as a whole economic system. They determined that the expansion of 212 would be a big plus as well as how NYA markets itself to possible businesses. This information was given to the Food Retail Committee for review.

With the information in hand, council made a motion to accept the market study. Motion was approved unanimously.

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