Council tables street project

Published 9:57 am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday voted to table a decision about a street overlay project slated for this summer in the western part of the city.

The project calls for a bituminous overlay, new sidewalk installation and miscellaneous curb and gutter replacement on Fourth Avenue from West Ninth Street to Front Street.

Councilors said they wanted to try to get more time to resolve some water backup issues on portions of the street.

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Third Ward Councilor George Marin, who voted against tabling the project, said he was “torn” on how to proceed.

He questioned the condition of the road and whether it is in need of repair. He also noted there were many older people in the area who would not be able to pay for it.

In other action, the City Council:

• Passed a resolution requesting the city be given a variance to use municipal state aid funds to make improvements to Fountain Street during the Broadway reconstruction project.

The work on Fountain Street includes the construction of bumpouts at the intersection with Broadway and the addition of new decorative sidewalk and crosswalk treatments.

It also includes constructing a wider sidewalk along the north side of the street adjacent to Fountain Lake Park and replacing the beam guardrail on the north side of the sidewalk with a post and cable barrier.

Typically, to be able to use municipal state aid funds, the street must meet design criteria for a 30 mph road. This part of the street does not qualify for this because of a curve and the traffic calming measures that are being implemented through the Broadway project.

City Engineer Steven Jahnke said if the variance is granted, the city could use $350,000 in state aid funds for the downtown project.

The decision on how the money would be used has not been made, but it could be used to decrease the amount the city bonds for.

The entire Broadway project is estimated at more than $4 million.

• Authorized a construction agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the construction of a sidewalk on the east side of U.S. Highway 69 from West Ninth Street to Plainview Lane.

The construction comes as the state is scheduled to repave the highway this summer.

According to information provided by the city, the estimated cost of the sidewalk project is about $114,00, with the city paying about $49,000.

• Approved a a $2,500 matching grant through the Broadway Ridge Renewal program to Shari Klatt, 106 S. Broadway, to help improve the rear entrance to the State Farm building. Customers will need to use the rear entrances to downtown buildings at some points during construction of the Broadway streetscape project.

The grants for the rear entrances are available through April 30.

• Approved the first reading of amendment to the city’s sign ordinance.

• Approved the first reading of an amendment to an ordinance for zoning of the Albert Lea airport.

The amendment corrects some legal descriptions that had been submitted incorrectly to Freeborn County for recording.

• Approved a 1.75 percent cost of living wage increase for the city’s 911 dispatchers.

The contract with the Minnesota Teamsters Public & Law Enforcement Employees Union will be for two years, with health insurance to be reconsidered for 2014.

Under the agreement, the employee’s contribution toward health insurance would increase slightly and the health savings account contributions would be decreased by $300 with the opportunity for the employee to make this back through participation in a wellness program.

• Approved a policy to recognize elected officials and volunteer board members for their public service to the community.

According to the policy, volunteers serving two complete terms will be presented with a plaque at their last regularly scheduled board meeting. Volunteers serving less than six years will be presented with a certificate of appreciation.

The mayor will also acknowledge outgoing board and commission members at a City Council meeting and present a plaque to outgoing council members.