10/11/2012 9:18:00 AM Center City downtown project has weeks left
by Colleen Kastanek
Center City’s downtown improvement remained at a standstill last week as council met for its September meeting. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency called a work stoppage to the already delayed project when abandoned fuel tanks were discovered under Summit Avenue during excavation on August 30. The tanks had already been pumped and removed when the council approved Nova Consulting to oversee the removal of contaminated soil from the area at its September 4 council meeting.
At that time the council expected that the project could resume within the week. Another delay followed however, while SKB Environmental, the solid waste management firm that will abate the soil, waited for a permit from Ramsey County, where it will store the contaminated soil. Last week SKB Environmental obtained its permit and the council held an emergency meeting to approve an initial contract with the firm. City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer remarked that there are details in the contract of which the council and staff need to be aware. For example, he explained, the contract automatically renews after 24 months. The council directed the city clerk to “mark the calendar and cancel the contract when it expires.” More soil will be removed than was originally estimated. The initial calculation from the city engineer was 70 cubic yards, but the contract with SKB Environmental is to remove up to 500 cubic yards. The MPCA had allocated up to 150 cubic yards for reimbursement from the Petro Fund. Mayor Behneke said she will look for funding for the abatement not covered by the Petro Fund. The council unanimously approved the contract with SKB Environmental that had already been forwarded to the firm as recommended by the PCA and Nova. The council also unanimously approved an extension for the rain garden cost-share contract with the Chisago County Soil and Water Conservation District.
This was done to preserve funding in the event the rain garden by Marine Dock and Lift cannot be installed this season. Mayor Behnke reported that removal of the contaminated soil expected to begin Thursday, October 4. There is an estimated three weeks of construction left on the project after the soil abatement. In an issue related to the challenges downtown businesses face during construction, the council heard a report that the EDA unanimously approved expenditure of $2200 for a sign on Highway 8 to direct motorists to downtown businesses. Each business will have its name on a blue panel with white lettering. The council approved the Summit Avenue business district pay $5245.50 for staking and inspection to Mateffy Engineering, Inc. Pump house #1 replacement is nearing completion. The council approved a pay estimate for $8599 on that project and the addition of a second dial-out phone line for the alarm system.
Mayor Behnke estimated that pump #1 will go back online in mid-October. In response to an audience member’s complaint about the high iron content of water from well #2, Behnke commented that residents will probably not see immediate improvement when well #1 comes back on. The water in storage has to mix and be replaced with water from well #1. The shortcomings of the water pumped by well #2 water did not become evident in residential lines for several weeks after the project started this summer, she reminded the audience. The council is waiting for a few minor items to be completed on Per Road in the County Business Park before it will accept the road into the city street system. City attorney Peter Grundhoefer advised that the road be completed and accepted before winter to avoid warranty issues once plowing starts. The city is asking the county to do the first plow-through after snow falls to guarantee the 24-hour Chisago County Communications Center remains accessible, but nothing has been finalized on this matter. The council addressed intersection lighting and speed on CR9. Mayor Behnke reported that her informal survey of citizens indicated that decorative lights that match the other street lights along the roadway are preferred. Council member Higgins added that, as a walker, she thinks decorative lights would provide adequate illumination.
The council approved using the two sixteen-foot decorative lights it has in inventory for the intersections of Mobeck and Lindecke on CR9. Council members Wolcott and Jensen voted “nay.” On the matter of speeding, particularly at the pedestrian crosswalk by the church, the council felt that “enforcement is the key.” The council agreed that the fluorescent pedestrian walkway figures (little green men) that cost $400 are not cost effective because they “tend to walk away.” CR9 is well posted at 30 MPH and there is an electronic roadside speed readout. City staff gave the council a “heads-up” that Grand Avenue manhole covers need to be leveled to the street surface. Hearing the estimate of $9000 per cover resulted in the council putting this project on hold and directing city maintenance staff to cold patch before this plowing season. The council was delighted to hear that the I.G. Long and Water Tower Park renovations are completed under budget and on time. Branden Bent, who managed the projects to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, gave a full accounting to the council.
Early this spring the Park Committee was prepared to spend over $14,000 to replace the surfaces of these parks. Bent proposed to do the project for less than $9000. His final bill for materials came in at $8260. Bent wrote the proposal, got estimates, procured the materials and managed 325 hours of volunteer labor as he oversaw the renovation of the parks over several weekends this summer. He reported that his troop’s participation and local business and community support was incredible.