Albert Lea could get bike lane

Published 2:00 pm Saturday, June 12, 2010

Albert Lea’s first bike lanes may soon be one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday is slated to vote whether to call a public hearing about constructing a bike lane on Front Street from U.S. Highway 69 to Frank Avenue.

If approved, the hearing would be June 28.

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The idea for the bike lane was initially requested in 2009 by a biking initiative group as part of the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project. The lane would connect with the start of the Blazing Star Trail shared user path.

According to the feasibility report that the council will also vote on Monday, the project would cost an initial estimated $47,000.

The project would include one bike lane for each level of travel and would thus require limiting parking on one or both sides of the street because of street widths, the report states. Fifty homes, four apartment buildings, 24 businesses and two schools along this section of Front Street that would be directly affected by the loss of parking.

If approved, parking recommendations include no parking from U.S. Highway 69 to Fourth Avenue, except for unloading and loading of school buses; no parking from Fourth Avenue to First Avenue; parking on the north side only from First Avenue to Spark Avenue; no parking from Spark Avenue to Euclid Avenue; parking on the north side only from Euclid Avenue to Washington Avenue; and no parking from Washington Avenue through Frank Avenue.

The report states there would be annual costs of between $20,000 and $25,000 for paint striping and bike lane symbols.

The project would also require the installation of about 75 “No Parking” signs and 40 bike lane signs. The signs have an estimated cost of $10,000 and would need to be replaced every 10 to 12 years.

In other action, the City Council will:

Have a public hearing about the final assessments for the 2009 state aid street projects.

The projects included mill, overlay, curb replacement and sidewalk replacement on sections of Fountain Street, Martin Road, Bridge Avenue and Madison Avenue.

The final cost of the project was about $580,000, with about $167,000 coming from assessments, $377,000 coming from state aid funding and $36,000 being city cost.

Vote whether to accept bids and award the contract for the new three-season Edgewater Park pavilion.

Bids were opened on May 18, with the low bid coming in at $590,000 from Sundance Exteriors Unlimited of Hastings.

Tim Reisnour of Zenk Read & Trystad, who is the designer of the project, is recommending the city accept this bid. He is also recommending a 5 percent contingency of $29,500 and having accoustical ceiling panels, which have a cost of about $8,700.

This pushes the cost of the project to about $628,000.

The city has about $558,000 available in grant funds for the project, left over from the North Edgewater Park Landfill cleanup, which have been designated to complete the pavilion.

During the Thursday preagenda workshop, the council discussed how to make up for the difference in cost.

City Manager Jim Norman said staff recommended not building the playground equipment — which would cost about $30,000 — until the project is near completion. If the contingency money is not used, they could use that to complete this project.

Staff also recommended that the bituminous surfacing of the parking lot — of a cost of about $52,000 — not be performed until 2011.

These recommendations would leave a gap of about $18,000, he said.

Norman noted City Finance Director Rhonda Moen is recommending that the $18,000 could be made up from police and fire pension fund interest earnings.

Councilors indicated they agreed with these recommendations.

Vote whether to call a public hearing about the establishment of the proposed Palleton Pallets tax increment finance project.

In May the council called a public hearing for the TIF project, which was to be built on property owned by Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative; however, since that time the project has since switched to where it will be built in the ALEDA Industrial Park.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman said Palleton Pallets was previously located in Lake Mills, Iowa.

A new building in Albert Lea would anchor the company to the community, he said.

Vote whether to approve a resolution that would give an access easement to Alliant Energy. The easement would give Alliant the ability to inspect their company’s gas facilities to determine that when they install gas main and services does not conflict with the city’s sanitary sewer main.

Vote whether to approve a request from the American Legion Leo Carey Post 56 to enclose the area in front of 142 N. Broadway Ave. for an outdoor picnic area from 3 p.m. July 2 through midnight July 3. The area to be fenced in is the sidewalk area and three-fourths of the parking stalls in front of the Legion.

Vote whether to approve a request from the owner of Aylwin’s Concession to sell cotton candy and snow cones in Albert Lea parks during the summer months.

Exceptions would include Snyder Fields, the city pool and City Arena.

Vote whether to defer assessments in the amount of $1,223 for the property owner at 814 Madison Ave.