State awards grant for 777th Ave. construction

Published 4:18 pm Saturday, February 7, 2009

With a state award last week of $250,000 to go toward the construction of 777th Avenue, the city and Albert Lea Port Authority are now coming together to apply for a $700,000 federal grant for the project, which will service the Interstate 35 and Interstate 90 Business Park.

The road, between the Love’s Truck Stop and the I-35/I-90 Business Park, will allow easy access to the interstate system and will also increase opportunities to locate companies to the area, Albert Lea City Manager Victoria Simonsen said Thursday.

The Albert Lea Economic Development Authority applied for the $250,000 state grant on behalf of the city and will do the same for the federal grant as long as the Albert Lea City Council authorizes the grant application. If it is approved, the federal grant will be submitted to the Grants for Public Works and Economic Development Facilities through the Economic Development Administration.

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Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Dan McElroy said in a news release that the $250,000 award “will provide the necessary resources for continued economic development and growth and enhance employment in the community and surrounding area. All parties involved in the city’s application can be proud of this award.”

If the $700,000 federal grant is awarded, that will leave about $450,000 in costs, which the Port Authority will be responsible for.

Simonsen said if the grant application is authorized during the upcoming council meeting, the city will bond for the project, and the Port Authority will make the payments.

She said the grant application is about 30 pages long.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Director Dan Dorman said in the release that the grants will help reduce the cost of the land in the park, which will give the Port Authority a competitive advantage when it comes to potential developers.

The construction of the road will begin this spring or early summer and should be completed this year.

“The development of the I-35/I-90 Business Park is an investment in the future economic health of Albert Lea,” said Councilor Vern Rasmussen, who is also on the ALEDA board of directors, in the release. “Given the current budget constraints faced by cities, the most important thing we can do is continue to grow our tax base and add jobs.”

During the Monday Albert Lea City Council meeting, the council will:

Follow up on an order for removal of structures at 316 Railroad Ave. that was tabled at the last council meeting.

Councilors voted to give the property owners, Steven and Jolene Svendsen, two weeks to submit a timeline for improvements on the property.

Since, Steven Svendsen submitted a timeline proposal to improve the property. It included removing the garage, replacing windows, fixing soffit and fascia boards, replacing the roof and replacing the siding by April 25.

Simonsen said councilors could now either accept the timeline, move forward with the order for removal or authorize an order for removal at a certain date if the improvements have not been made.

Inspector Mark Roche said Svendsen’s timeline did not address the foundation, which he said has some issues on the west wall.

A few of the councilors asked Roche if they accept the timeline, they would like him to let the Svendsens how important it is to fix the foundation and how much that might cost before they start with any of the fixes.

Have a public hearing and vote on whether to approve an order for removal of the structure at 418 Ulstad Ave.

The property was placaraded as unfit for human occupancy on May 17, 2007, but during a followup inspection of the property on Sept. 19, many of the conditions still existed.

Some of the problems found include a poor foundation, damaged and missing siding and roofing, a rotted roof dormer, windows and window trim, junk and debris in the yard, damaged front steps and improper wiring, according to the inspection department.

The current owner of the property is Linda Stinehart, but there is a possibility she could be selling the property, Roche said.

Vote on whether to approve the preliminary and final plat of the Linde Addition, which is a two-lot subdivision on the south side of South Shore Drive, east of Highway 65.

The easterly lot would be used for residential and the westerly lot would be used as a storm water retention pond.

The Albert Lea Planning Commission approved the plats with three conditions.

Vote on whether to approve the preliminary and final plat for a buildable lot at the northeast corner of Hershey Street and Bridge Avenue. The lot is currently part of the parking lot in front of Herberger’s.

Simonsen said this was being requested so that the property would be ready in case of a business venture.

Vote on two task orders with Mead & Hunt regarding projects at the Albert Lea Airport.

The first is for the mill and overlay of the cross runway and adjacent area.

This work would be completed contingent on receiving economic stimulus funds. If it is completed, it would be done at the same time the runway is lengthened.

If stimulus funds are available, 95 percent of the cost would be federal funds and 5 percent would be local funds.

The second task order is for an amendment regarding the runway design and taxiway design. The amendment modifies the contract to include bidding for both a concrete and bituminous runway.

Like the previous order, if stimulus funds are available, 95 percent of the cost would be federal funds and 5 percent would be local funds.

Vote on whether to approve an agreement with the Albert Lea School District and Community Education for the placement of a boat storage building near Brookside Boat Landing on Richway Drive.

The agreement states that Community Education would pay to have the structure constructed and that the city would own, repair and maintain the building. The building would be deeded over to the city, and Community Education would lease it from the city for $1 per year.

The agreement would be for $20 years.

Councilor Vern Rasmussen expressed concern about why the city would have to maintain the building.

Simonsen said the building would be one of the city’s assets.

Councilor Larry Anderson added that it will be a facility used by the public, where eventually there will also be restrooms added.

“We partner with a lot of different entities in the community,” Anderson said. “And especially during economic times, we need to bond together and get some things done.”

The structure will be 20 feet by 24 feet.

Vote on amending the rate charges for electronic disposal at the Albert Lea Transfer Station.

Simonsen said the city has been notified that the charges to take away electronics from the transfer station are increasing from 2 cents to 18 cents per pound. Thus, there need to be some changes to the city’s cost for leaving electronics.

Vote on reallocating the assessments in Port Authority Plat No. 3.

Vote on a request from Councilor Ellen Kehr to have no parking on the east side of Wedgewood Road from the Albert Lea Family Y entrance south to the property line of the Y.

Kehr raised the concern at the last council meeting.

City engineering and street department staff, along with the Y director agree with the recommendation, Simonsen said.

Vote on a request from the Twin Valley Council Chapter of Boy Scouts of America to reserve portions of Edgewater Park on June 25 and 26 for a day camp and overnight event.

Vote on a request from Gwen Reiss, owner of the Turtle Dove, for a refund of her wine license issued Sept. 1. Because the business is closing, Reiss is requesting a refund for the period of Jan. 1 through June 30. There is a value of $100.

Recognize Albert Lea Police Department school resource officer Ted Herman for receiving the Outstanding Juvenile Officer Award through the Minnesota Juvenile Officer’s Association.

 Vote on annual licenses for tattoo artist Scott Pagliaroli at what will be called Satan’s Den on 204 W. Clark St.