The large infrastructure project planned for Waconia’s downtown in 2022-2023 will pushed back a year to 2023-2024.
That decision was made last week by the city council to give downtown businesses a chance to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and other downtown disruptions in recent years.
Several business owners expressed those concerns at a public information meeting about the project held earlier this year and in feedback following the meeting. The frequency of recent projects and related traffic interruptions, along with cost impacts on top of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic all were factors cited in requests for a delay.
The two-year project as proposed would have involved reconstruction of streets, utilities, sidewalks and stormwater drainage generally in a nine-block area of the downtown starting next year. The 2022 portion targeted two blocks of Main Street and one block of Olive Street; the 2023 portion, three additional blocks of Main Street and one block of Elm, Pine and Spruce streets. New target improvement dates for those areas are 2023 and 2024.
Those streets contain some of the oldest remaining sections of sewer and watermain in the city, according to Public Services Director Craig Eldred. So, the city can’t afford to wait much beyond a one-year delay, he said, because the infrastructure is in poor condition and there are concerns about failure.
In its place for 2022, the council last week discussed another package of projects for other infrastructure that requires attention. Targeted improvements instead will focus on Maple Street, Second Street through Fourth Street, Third Street, and the termination point of 2020 improvements near Walnut Street to Olive Street. Also, street resurfacing on Dunsmore Drive and Oak Avenue south of Highway 5.
In other business last week, the council approved a site plan and design for Sota Shine Car Wash, a full-service, drive-through car wash proposed for 740 Marketplace Drive in the west-end commercial district south of Highway 5.
The council also amended an earlier resolution allowing expanded outdoor dining again this summer as the pandemic lingers to give the city flexibility in determining an end date for expanded outdoor dining and not tie the outdoor dining to the state or local emergencies. The have been no applications for expanded outdoor dining as of last week, according to city officials.