A block of First Street Northwest to get a facelift

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

A portion of First Street Northwest, a street the Little Falls City Council has discussed improving numerous times in the past, will be upgraded this year.

Not only will it get a face-lift to repair the cracks on the street’s surface, but  the infrastructure will be replaced, including the sanitary sewer main and sewer service lines, water main service lines, storm sewer and sidewalks. Historic street lights will be put up as well.

Tim Houle, engineer with Widseth Smith Nolting, said there are storm drainage concerns, no water main exists on that street, and with the old tile in the sanitary sewer, there are some infiltration problems.

It’s a just a block, from Broadway to First Avenue Northwest, but the price tag is estimated at $248,082.37, with $144,464.52 of that being a cost to the city. The rest, $103,617.85, will be assessed to those who own property abutting the project. Half of that property is owned by Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, which will be assessed $54,190.85 for its property on the easterly side.

Houle said the water main, to be installed up to Broadway, won’t connect at this point. When Broadway is redone, then it would be connected, which would allow for a fire hydrant on that street.

Don Opatz and Bev Nouis, who both own property on the west side of the street, voiced their concerns about the project during the public hearing.

Nouis said she will lose the lot she has owned and paid taxes on for decades. Her assessment for the project is nearly $21,000.

But, Nouis said, she was willing to go along with the project, “The city has to start working together,” she said.

Opatz said he would be in favor of a new overlay on the street, but not the whole project. “The street does need repair,” he said,  but questioned the need for a new water main, since most of the buildings on the east side were hooked up to a water main from the back.

“I don’t believe they’d ever be able to hook up to the front because of the way the buildings are constructed there now,” he said.

Houle said Opatz was correct on that point for those specific pieces of property. When city staff did the feasibility study, Houle said, “They were looking pretty long term. When you put in sewer and water main it’s for probably longer than our lifetimes, “ he said. “If the project would proceed, those specific properties will not be able to hook up to water now, but the future is what staff is looking at and the fire hydrant feature and ability to hook up to the Broadway project in the future. He’s right for the short-term.”

Crowder, who has been a proponent of an overlay to fix the street, asked about that cost.

Houle said an option for just overlay had not been provided for this project. He said vitrified clay pipe was under the street. “I’ve got to believe it’s pretty old and having worked on other projects with that vitrified clay tile pipe, you’re tossing the dice with doing an overlay and leaving the old water main pipe.”

Crowder, who noted he’s been pushing to have the street retarred, preferred the resurfacing.

“I’m in favor of getting the whole thing done … you need to do the road right,” said Council Member Frank Gosiak. “An overlay is a Band Aid over the problem.”

Council Member Greg Zylka said it was not a good use of taxpayers’ dollars if the city were to spend thousands to do an overlay and then have to tear it up to put in the water and sewer mains. “That’s not looking to the future,” he said.

The Council voted 7-1 to proceed with the project, with Crowder voting no.

The project will be bid on or before July 30.

Assessments can be paid over a 15-year period.

Little Falls Council Briefs

In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:

•Tabled a decision on whether to continue an agreement with Franklin Outdoor Advertising for a billboard on property owned by the city;

•Heard Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder’s concern about the discontinuance of the use of city equipment on private property being related to damage done at the Oakland Cemetery by city equipment, and a comment that the Oakland Cemetery submitted a bill to the city. Crowder said that wasn’t true and that a bill was never submitted for the damage. City Administrator Dan Vogt said the city had looked at the damage, but had never received a bill for repair;

•Approved the placement of an advertising bench on city property, southwest of City Hall;

•Approved hiring William VandenAvond as a part-time patrol officer at a rate of $17.31 per hour;

•Approved hiring Kevin Gerads as wastewater operator and Nathaniel Deshayes as water operator, both at a rate of $17.26 per hour; Cody Sauer as engineering aide at $10.01 per hour; and Kyle Hemple, Alec Spillum and Riley Gutormson as summer laborers in the street department at $8.13 per hour;

•Approved the placement of barricades on the alley by the Farmers Market by Zoomski’s on East Broadway Wednesday and Saturday mornings, provided neighbors agree;

•Approved a request by Anderson Custom Processing to block part of a public parking lot from just after Memorial Day through September, while it is in the process of installing mechanical units on top of its building;

•Learned city staff is again receiving a large number of data requests and that staff would handle the requests as soon as possible. Vogt said staff spends about one – two hours per week on data requests, some for records dating back to the 1970s; and

•Approved the application to Community Development for a grant to help pay for the removal of lead paint from the Musser home. The Friends of Linden Hill applied for a grant to Valspar to paint the home, but the lead-based paint must first be removed.

The City Council next meets Monday, June 2, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

  • robin hensel

    As my ONLY frontyard sign says “YOU WANT CHANGE…PACK CITY HALL”