Council reviews major street work

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In what turned out to be a three-hour meeting, the Albert Lea City Council finalized Monday all of the assessments for the seven major improvement projects made this year.

Topping off the assessments were those for the Margaretha Avenue reconstruction project, which had a total project cost of about $1.8 million. It included the reconstruction of Margaretha Avenue from 125 feet south of 11th Street to 14th Street.

The reconstruction included the complete removal of the existing concrete pavement and replacement with new concrete pavement with curb. It also included new storm sewer, a system to control surface moisture and replacement of the water main on the roadway.

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Project costs came from a $600,000 federal grant received by the city, a $500,000 grant received by Freeborn County and the remainder being assessed to 12 large property owners along Margaretha Avenue.

During the public hearing on this project, Barb Rofshus, co-owner of Rofshus Precision Machine Inc., explained that her business has been in town for about 50 years. This reconstruction project basically closed the business down for three months, she said.

When the reconstruction was occurring, Rofshus explained, it was difficult to get into the business, their sign was taken up and replaced with one that did not have their name on it, and the contractors took up their landscaping.

She said she thinks all the businesses in Jobs Industrial Park should be paying for a part of the assessments as they have large trucks going on Margaretha Avenue, too. She noted she thought her assessment was a little high for a small business.

The council discussed how in the future if there’s going to be a road closed for two or three months, the city needs to be fully prepared about available options if problems like this were to occur again.

The councilors asked what the options are for the Rofshus business at this point in terms of the assessments.

City Manager Victoria Simonsen explained that the council has the ability to work individually with someone, and they can choose to allow an assessment to be paid back over a longer period of time. However, in this case because of the size of the assessments, city staff were already recommending them to be paid back over a 15-year period instead of the usual 10.

Simonsen said she would not recommend going above the 15-year period.

Marin asked Rofshus if she knew how much income the business lost during the time of the reconstruction, and Rofshus said she did not know the answer to that question.

Simonsen explained that companies have 30 days to apply for a deferment after assessments are finalized.

After the Margaretha Avenue project, the council discussed the assessments for the 2007 sanitary sewer lift station at Pearl Street and Elizabeth Avenue.

Final costs associated with the project were about $385,000, with about $34,000 assessable to adjacent property owners.

Third were the assessments for the street and underground utility improvements on Pilot Road, Hi Tec Avenue and Algon Street.

Final project costs were about $388,000, with 77 percent assessable to adjacent property owners and 23 percent being a city cost.

Fourth were the assessments for the project on Amelia Avenue, Amelia Place, Hoffman Avenue, Oregon Street and Hershey Street.

Total project costs were about $290,000, with 68 percent being assessable to adjacent property owners and 32 percent being city costs.

Fifth were the assessments for the water main loop construction project, which involved the construction of a 12-inch water main loop from Southeast Marshall Street east of Freeborn County Road 38 and north to the existing system at East Main Street. The area is east of Interstate 35 behind Erlandson’s Implement and Pro Manufacturing.

Final project costs were about $375,000, with 13 percent being assessable to adjacent property owners, 13 percent being city costs and the remainder being held for future or deferred assessments.

Sixth were the assessments for the 2008 Neighborhood Improvement Project.

Final project costs were about $619,000, with 51 percent being assessable to adjacent property owners and 49 percent being city costs.

Seventh were the assessments for the bituminous overlay on Hawthorne Street, Lakewood Avenue, Lakeview Boulevard and Third Street.

Costs of the project were about $394,000, with about 61 percent being assessable, 17 percent being the city’s cost and about 22 percent coming from state funds.

For each project councilors and Simonsen explained whether they had gotten any requests for deferred assessments.

In other action, the City Council:

– Approved the formation of a tax-increment-finance district for S.A.R. Inc., a custom machining and metal fabrication company on 401 Airport Road.

The business requested the city provide tax increment finance assistance because of a planned 9,600-square-foot expansion.

The company will pay 100 percent of the cost with the city providing semi-annual reimbursements of the increment not to exceed $57,362.

The expansion will result in an annual tax increment of about 6,400 a year.

– Adopted the final plat of the Main Plaza.

The plat was originally approved by the council in December of 2006 but was not recorded. The plat is now being re-introduced with new signatures and dates.

– Rejected the bid for the City Arena geothermal retrofit project. One bid was received for the project from Harty Mechanical in Austin in the amount of $1.26 million for phases one and two of the project. The bid was about $200,000 more than the original estimate.

Simonsen said since the bid was received the contractor has indicated that their bid could come in lower at a different time of year.

– Authorized a conditional-use permit for Prairie Senior Cottages, a supervised living facility, which is planned to go up at the site of the old West Clinic.

– Adopted assessments for the Parking Maintenance District, which include the cost of snow removal, street sweeping and lighting in the downtown business district north of Pearl Street, south of Fountain Street, west of Elizabeth Avenue and east of St. Mary Avenue.

Assessments include the cost of the district from Aug. 1, 2007, through July 31, 2008.

– Tabled an agreement with Manchester to maintain the sanitary sewer system owned by Manchester.

– Renewed a currency exchange license to J&C Nelson Inc. at 1619 W. Main St. that will allow Nelson’s to offer check-cashing services to its customers.

– Authorized the mayor and city manager to enter into an agreement with the Albert Lea Hockey Association for rental of ice time and the lease and operation of the concession stand at City Arena during the 2008-09 year.

– Authorized the mayor and city manager to enter into an agreement with the Albert Lea School District for the rental of ice time at City Arena for its hockey program.