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Osakis council gives official nod to 2016 Downtown Project

Storyboards were on display at the Tuesday, June 30, Osakis 2016 Downtown Improvement Project public hearing. Two of the streetscape posters showed possible signage and curb extensions. Curb extensions do create more space that must be maintained by adjacent buildings or the city. The map shows the primary and secondary focus intersections, along with the Trail Gateway.1 / 2
Interested Osakis citizens met with, seated from left, engineer Sheila Krohse, Osakis Public Utilities director Kurt Haakinson, and engineer Mark Klema to determine their estimated assessment costs for the Osakis 2016 Downtown Improvement Project, following the Tuesday, June 30 public hearing on the project. Photo by Roberta Olson, Osakis Review.2 / 2

Following an hour of discussion between the city’s engineers and 15 Osakis commercial property owners, the Osakis City Council voted Tuesday, June 30 to proceed with the 2016 Downtown Improvement Project.

Sheila Krohse of Bolton and Menk, engineering firm, made a presentation on the scope of the project, which was followed by a question period she and her assistant, Mark Klema, fielded.

The $2.8 million project will be located in the downtown core area of the city, including Main Street from Second Avenue West to First Avenue East; Central Avenue from Nokomis Street to Lake Osakis; and First Avenue West from Main Street to the Central Lakes Trail. The project will include complete street, sewer and water utility reconstruction, concrete curbs and gutters, sidewalks, storm sewers and streetscapes.

Krohse pointed out that the sanitary sewer system, constructed in the 1950s, used clay pipes, and clay tends to break. The water services are more than 50 years old, and the life span of cast iron pipes is 25 years, because they deteriorate in the soil over time. Sidewalks and streets are cracking.

The engineers and city are still looking at two options for the design, one calling for two way traffic on Central, and one calling for one-way traffic moving from County Highway 82 north to Lake Osakis.

Krohse pointed out that no matter which plan the city ultimately chooses, there will be a change made on Central Avenue, because it no longer meets the state requirements for lane and sidewalk widths.

The one-way traffic proposal would have a 12-foot drive lane with a two-foot buffer on each side; 45 degree diagonal parking on both sides with 36 stalls; and 11-foot sidewalks on each side. This plan would require a variance from the state.

The two-way traffic plan would leave two 11-foot drive lanes with a two foot buffer on each side; parallel parking on one side of the street with 30 stalls, and 10 foot sidewalks on each side.

The present sidewalks are 8 to 8-1/5 feet wide and have differing slopes at different locations.

If the one-way traffic plan is chosen, the city would apply for a state variance in September.

FUNDING SOURCES

Estimated cost of the project is $2,822,900, according to Krohse. Funding sources include a Public Facilities Authority (PFA) loan at 1-1.5 percent for up to 30 years; and potential grants based on project need and financial need.

Other funding includes County State Aid Highway Funds through Douglas County, estimated at $1,190,000 for the streets; and assessments amounting to $747,000 to the property affected.

The city’s portion will be funded by General Obligation Bonds and/or PFA funding in the amount of $885,000. This is for construction of sanitary sewer, water main, storm sewer, and street scape items.

ASSESSMENTS

Following the formal meeting Tuesday night, engineers and officials met with individual property owners who wished to know what their estimated assessments would be.

It was pointed out that there would be no difference between the assessment rates to the commercial properties, and the few residential properties in the improvement district.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

Many of the 15 property owners attending the public hearing spoke to various parts of the project.

Among them was Dennis Ruhoff, who lives adjacent to the DNR Boat Landing at 11 Central Avenue. He told the engineers that the water and sewer service he will be assessed for serves five other residences to the east of his property.

“Am I supposed to pay for all this so they can be serviced?” he asked.

It was agreed by the city council and the engineers that this situation will be investigated and if there are other properties serviced through Ruhoff’s line, an adjustment will have to be made.

STREETSCAPES

“It seems that the streetscape is non-essential,” Mike Buffington commented. “Can the business owners vote on this?”

Councilman Kyle Kostrzewski said, “I have been listening to the business owners. I am a business owner myself. Most are concerned with keeping it as simple as possible. Trees are an issue, downtown trees. I would rather see some type of hanging baskets.”

He added, “I am not a fan of pavers. Alexandria put in pavers last year and they are already replacing some of them.”

Kostrzewski expressed concern that people can walk safely on the sidewalk. “I want to do this project right the first time so it will last 50 years, so I don’t have to deal with it again.”

LaDonna Karl spoke to the subject of parking. “Working people are parking on Main Street already,” she said. “If there is no parking, people will keep going.”

Kostrzewski said, “There will be six more parking spots by going with the one-way. I think six parking spots is a big deal.”

Councilman Jerry Olson said, “I agree with Kyle [Kostrzewski. Keep it simple.” Olson also said he is getting comments on parallel parking.

Howard Swenstad asked the engineers if there had been any thought to the trestle.

“Annually, I dig at least one fifth-wheeler out of there. Now is the time to ask MnDOT,” he said. He also noted that at the previous meeting, discussion had included putting in an arch bridge at that location.

City Public Works Department superintendent Kurt Haakinson asked the gathering, “Does anybody have a reason why we should not improve our downtown?”

Roxanne Alsaker replied, “I am scared to death of the cost.”

A separate firm, Hoisington Koegler Group Inc., Minneapolis, is designing the proposed streetscapes.

Storyboards of the two alternative plans were on display at the Tuesday meeting. Two future meetings will be held regarding the streetscapes.

PARKING

DURING PROJECT

Keeping businesses running as usual during the project is being discussed.

“We’re going to do our best to help the business owners to maintain their businesses downtown. We will phase the project so that the whole downtown will not be ripped up at one time,” Krohse said.

Swenstad asked if there had been any thought to alternative parking. Krohse noted that there is discussion about alternative accesses to businesses from the back.

Krohse noted that during the project there will be a website so people can get daily updates on the project, newsletters, and a project representative will be on site at all times to answer questions.

ASSESSMENTS

Assessment rates were outlined for the project as follows:

•Street reconstruction, including lighting $43.65/foot

•Sidewalk, including street scape $35.54/foot

•Sanitary Sewer Main $15.45/foot

•Water main $15.66/foot

•Storm Sewer $2.47/foot

•Sanitary Sewer Service $1,370.00/each

•One-inch Water Service $1,730.00/each

This totals $112.77 per front foot on each lot, plus the sanitary sewer and water service stubs.

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