December 3, 2009 at 8:50 a.m.
Some in Lindstrom looking forward to opportunity to make change happen for people in town and people who come to visit
There is a public hearing December 17 as one of the steps in qualifying for a grant to fix-up buildings in downtown.
Lindstrom Parks Commissioners also met on a recent Saturday with four streetscape planners, participating in a "charette" or brainstorming session, to develop a design for Linden Street.
The public hearing is for a Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Small Cities Development Grant program. Using federal funding meant for cities like Lindstrom, the council hopes to see commercial and residential structures rehabilitated. Lindstrom, in cooperation with the Chisago County HRA/EDA, seeks $213,000, which would be awarded to local property owners at a maximum of $24,000 for commercial buildings and a max of $17,000 for rental units.
Chris Eng, Director of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority/Economic Development Authority, said Lindstrom has been invited by DEED to do a full application based on preliminary information which Eng submitted jointly with city officials.
Interested people are reminded to not begin any projects until they qualify and receive funding. Any work undertaken prior to authorization will not be covered.
Under this Small Cities program property owners don't have to repay their loan after 10 years-- if structures remain in the same ownership.
There's a repayment schedule if the property does change hands. For example, if the property sells between one and five years from when the money is used, the payback is 100 percent. Years 6-10, 20 percent is forgiven each year, until year 10 when no payback is needed. Payments are at zero interest.
Eng said early interest expressed by Lindstrom property owners leads him to believe there's about 10 structures eligible and owners who will apply. The hearing will spell out more details on the program and inspections wouldn't get underway until later. The council would vote to submit the city's application for funding.
Along with rehabbing deteriorating buildings-- the Linden Street deadend is also a sore spot that Lindstrom hopes to address.
City parks commissioners know that tourist bus loads of visitors stop at the veterans memorial and Karl and Kristina statue, and tourists then stroll down Linden towards the lake. But, Linden Street ends abruptly at a patch of weeds, far back from South Lindstrom Lake and there's no overlook or welcoming place. The charette held at the chamber of commerce building brought streetscaping firms to meet with parks commissioners to see what can be done to improve Linden. Firms represented included LaDouceur Architecture & Design, Landscape Direction, Unique Landscapes, Barbour Architecture and John Koepke.
The project is two-fold, the parks people want to improve the visual impact and seek to mitigate stormwater run-off issues affecting the lake.
Ian Dudley serves on the Parks Commission. He said the group is excited to develop an attractive, functional plan that could be used as part of an application packet for outside grants.
The project is also important because Lindstrom contains many streets originally platted to simply terminate in the lakebed. Whatever the city incorporates as the Linden project will become an example for improvements on these poorly laid out streets elsewhere.
Chisago Lakes Lakes Improvements District (LID) representative John Nieber, attended the design charette and it's hoped there would be financial support from the LID, added Dudley.
The parks commission is in contact with a local concrete firm that manufactures products for stormwater collection and allows for settling of loose soil and litter, etc. usually swept into the lake in a heavy rainfall. Residents on Linden have been involved in this streetscape planning and their concerns were listened to, Dudley added.
Once a final preferred design is nailed down the group will seek funds from appropriate programs offering grants and/or loans to help fund the work.