Lake St. project draws general support
North Lake Street residents weren't unanimous in their concerns, but did voice a general consensus for the need to improve the street when meeting with Big Lake City officials Monday.
About two dozen residents met with Engineer Bruce Miller of Westwood Professional Services for two hours.
Miller, based on input from residents at a meeting a year ago and further discussions with the city council, presented to the people a "middle-ground" approach to the street improvement.
The option presented to the residents was the renovation of Lake Street at its current 24-foot width from Minnesota Ave. northerly to Glenwood Ave. A six to eight-foot sidewalk was proposed for construction on the west side of the street for the six running blocks of the project.
Up to three dozen small storm water ponding areas to allow seepage of water would be constructed at points along the street.
Also, Shoreacres Drive, the 14-foot one-way alley which runs between the lakeshore and North Lake Street, in addition to cross streets between Shoreacres and Lake Street North, would be resurfaced in their present width.
Miller said the above option represents a middle ground approach to the improvement of one of the city's most difficult streets. Due to the constrictions of the original layout of the street, homes and yards were developed much closer to it than on other thoroughfares around the city.
And due to those constrictions, getting rid of storm water has remained a problem. North Lake Street, resurfaced after the utility project in 1981, has regularly had standing water and it consequently has eroded the street.
Residents will need to be cooperative and allow the construction of the ponding areas (rain water gardens) for the project to be successful, Miller said. They would be designed at existing ponding areas and be of perhaps one or two feet in depth, with landscaping and shrubbery to be cosmetically appealing.
Their function would be to accommodate up to a half-inch of storm water runoff, which would infiltrate the ground and ultimately join the ground water seeping into the lake.
The water gardens would be linked by pipe to others in their immediate locale to disperse the water, Miller said.
The engineer explained it would be most critical to infiltrate the first half-inch of rainfall into the ground, as that is the water which would carry most pollutants from off the street. Any additional rainfall, he contended, would flow across land to the lake, but be essentially pure because the street pollutants would already have been washed into the rain gardens.
Miller said he has had considerable experience with storm runoff and ponding during his career - engineering perhaps as many as two dozen types of surface infiltration systems.
He contended the system designed for the North Lake Street region would be workable and comparably inexpensive.
The Costs - And The Timetable
Miller reported a reconstruction of North Lake Street at 24 feet, sidestreets and Shoreacres Drive, alone with the eight-foot sidewalk and rain gardens, would cost approximately $720,000.
(A reconstruction of the street, to include curb and gutter and storm sewer to Eagle Lake Road, was estimated at over $900,000, deemed too expensive by residents when attending a previous information hearing.)
The city has proposed to pay for 30% of the construction costs out of their streets fund. The remaining 70% would be paid by benefitting property owners. That includes some property owners easterly of Lake Street, whose property drains naturally toward Lake Street.
Estimated front foot cost for the entire project would be $49, Miller reported. That would make the cost range from $2,000 to $6,700 per lot.
Results of Monday's information meeting will be reported at an upcoming meeting of the Big Lake City Council. A public hearing to receive formal testimony for or against the project - or parts of it - would be scheduled later.
An assessment hearing, at which affected property owners would learn their costs, would be held into the new year.
Construction would begin in the spring and be completed sometime into the summer.
Mayor Don Orrock and all four members of the council were in attendance to hear the questions and testimony Monday.
Majority of those attending the meeting voiced no opposition to a restored street.
But there surfaced questions relating to the walkway-sidewalk, which on some lots would cut deeply into some front yards.
Melissa Olene, 731 Lake Street North, said she lost too many trees in the July, 1997 storm, and wasn't going to sacrifice any more for a sidewalk.
Miller said he wasn't going to recommend cutting down mature trees to accommodate the sidewalk. He said the width of the walk could be altered to keep mature trees safe.
He also said the 24-foot road surface could be moved a little easterly to make it easier to site the sidewalk on its west side.
Jerry Keeler, 911 North Lake St., asked if a sidewalk-walkway was that important; why the city couldn't just do the street.
"It needs some sort of sidewalk," said Miller. "And this can be dovetailed with the city's plan to create a walking trail around the entire lake."
Several residents spoke to the need for a sidewalk with the street.
Vivan Mitchell, Oregon Ave., resident, asked if the city could discourage people from walking Lake Street and direct them down Shoreacres Drive, the one-way which has considerably less car traffic.
Miller said Shoreacres cannot be enlarged, due to its constrictions, and wouldn't make for a good designated pedestrian walkway.
"The street is going down (deteriorating)," said Joe Freiday, 624 North Lake St.. "I'd be happy to pay for it. But the trails? It would make sense for the city to pay for the trail - all the way around the lake."
Miller said it would be best for the city to look at construction of the lake trail in segments, as projects came up.
There was considerable discussion regarding the volume and speed of traffic on North Lake Street. Miller said keeping the street surface at 24 feet would likely not attract any additional traffic.
"Speed is a huge problem," said one resident.
Miller agreed to further study the speed and traffic issues and respond to them at a later time. He contended that additional stop signs sometimes have the reverse effect, speeding traffic up.
Mark Klein member of the lake improvement association and resident of Hiawatha Ave., quizzed Miller as to why they shouldn't divert all storm water away from the lake via a storm sewer system.
Miller said it was improbable financially. He reasserted that the water garden system, property engineered, would go a long way to keeping roadway pollutants from the lake.
"The solution to pollution is dilution," he said. "Don't mobilize the pollutants. Let them run off only 10 feet and percolate. And the (filtered) water will recharge the lake."