Motley votes to go ahead with 2012 street project

Work on Wellwood to decrease and Emory Circle eliminated

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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The Motley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the 2012 street project with changes. Councilman Duane Solga recommended, after much discussion, to reduce the work on Wellwood Street from 325 feet to 225 feet, resurface the street at a 30-foot width instead of 36 feet, eliminate the access to lot 23, behind the strip mall, and add an access to the blueprint for the Motley Free Methodist Church. The vote also included eliminating Emory Circle from the project.

Councilman Rob Sampson said he was not in favor of eliminating the access to lot 23 on Wellwood Street.

“Even if (owner) Ed Jordahl plans to fence it (the building) off from the street, a fence is temporary and a future owner could add an access,” he said.

At the January meeting, the Council decided to hold off the final vote on proceeding with the 2012 street project. Members wanted the Street Committee to look at requests made by residents and businesses in town. Some of those requests were denied and others were given alternate recommendations.

Pat O’Regan, representing the Motley Food Shelf, told the Council at the Feb. 6 public hearing it could not afford the $18,600 assessment it would receive for the work done on two streets. The Street Committee recommended the city donate half the annual assessment each year from the 10 percent gambling monies as allowed by state statute. City Attorney Peter Vogel agreed, saying it would be better to give a donation to the Food Shelf than to treat them as residents on commercial property.

At the public hearing, Mary Duberowski told the Council she would like to be taken off the assessment rolls for Emory Circle as her property doesn’t abut the street, but she has to cross another lot on the circle to get to her home.

The Street Committee and Vogel proposed the portion of the project concerning Emory Circle should go forward as presented. The Council at first suggested the city should take over Emory Circle (currently not part of Motley) and assess the property owners at 30 percent instead of the original 100 percent.

If the lots were assessed at 100 percent, the members of the council agreed it would almost double their cost and the lots would never sell.

Council Member Steve Johnson requested sending Emory Circle back to the Street Committee for further study, but Mayor Nancy Nieken said it would possibly set the project back to 2013.

Solga said he was not in favor of removing Emory Circle from the project, but would rather eliminate it than not move the project forward.

The Council eventually voted to eliminate Emory Circle from the 2012 street project, but look at it again in a year or two.

Mark Frisk, who owns the property surrounding Third Avenue South, just north of West River Road, said in February he had planned to develop his property when he gave the street to the city, but was finding it difficult to do so now. If he was assessed, he would never be able to sell at an increased price. He had asked the road be returned to him and he would improve it at a more reasonable price than the city could offer.

Frisk’s request was not discussed and the Council stayed with the Street Committee’s recommendation to retain Third Avenue with assessments to Frisk.

Council Member Rob Sampson said a 36-foot width for Wellwood Avenue was overkill. Since the street was a dead end, and the only people to use it were churchgoers, he  said a 30-foot width was good enough.

While the Street Committee recommended leaving Wellwood Street as originally proposed, the Council voted to make the proposed changes of shortening and reducing the width of the street.

Widseth Smith Nolting engineer Aric Welch said if the Council is not comfortable moving ahead with the project, they shouldn’t rush into it. But, if it waited too long, the project may not be started until July or August.

“To push it off could increase the cost to the city and to the residents,” said Solga. “Gas prices are expected to increase, too. I caution that this is not the time to put this off.”

The Council also voted to keep the 10 percent retainage for the 2011 street project until everything with Kuechle has been settled.