Council not ready for feasibility study

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


After a 45-minute discussion Monday, the Clearwater City Council decided not to move ahead with a feasibility study for the Northeast Area Reconstruction project.
Members of council debated whether it was worth the cost to pay for a study they might not use if they decided not to do the road project for a few years.
Kevin Bittner of Bolton & Menk, the city’s engineering firm, explained the scope of the study. It would include two options. The first would be an analysis of a full reconstruction of the existing paved streets with curb and gutter, drainage improvements and bituminous pavement.
The second option wold be a more limited rehabilitation of the streets through reclamation of the existing bituminous pavement and an overlay. Street dimensions would remain as they are now and no curb and gutter or drainage improvements would be included. 
Bittner said the second option was included in response to a public outcry at an open house two weeks ago about the estimated assessments for the full reconstruction project.
“Based on the feedback that we’ve received, I think we should also look at some other option of improvements, a more limited rehabilitation and reconstruction,” he said. “Maybe a reclamation of the existing pavement and an overly to the existing dimensions so we have a full analysis of cost comparison between those two options.”
Mayor Pete Edmonson agreed there was concern about having different options.
“We got some very valuable feedback from that process and a number of questionnaires submitted back,” he said. “We got a mixed response -  those who are satisfied with the streets as they are, those who wish to have some intermediate patching improvements and those who wish to have some larger scale improvements.”
The study would also include a drainage plan for Option 1, probable costs for both options, a preliminary assessment roll for properties in the area for both options and reviewing the condition of the existing watermain, which may have issues.
One issue with the  feasibility study was the cost - $26,500. And another $20,000 for a detailed topographic survey of the project area.
“We need some survey data,” said Bittner. “My concern is that if we wait too long we may be into snow and icing conditions and the cost of doing the survey would go up.”
Councilman Cory Broich asked whether the study would still be valid if the council decided not to do the project next year.
“I would say the scope of analysis or the type of improvements that would City Continued On Page 2
be done would be good for a number of years,” said Bittner. “What we would want to look at is to update the costs based on inflation.”
Councilman Chris Ritzer asked if there were any other options - something less expensive.
Bittner said the other option was a cut and patch.
“Primarily a cut and patch is a maintenance project,” he said. “You would have to continue to do that as other areas of the road start to deteriorate. It would be ongoing over time.”
Councilman Kris Crandall felt the council should see how much it costs to do more than street patching. 
“I think those residents deserve something better than a patch job,” he said. “I’m all for finding out what that number would be if we just did a grind and overlay.” 
Edmonson said many residents felt requiring curb and gutter wasn’t necessary. He asked Bittner what was the benefit of curb and gutter.
“It’s essentially to create a drainage way that collects the water that drains off the street and may also drain off adjacent properties,” said Bittner. “You can construct that curb and gutter to a specific grade that would deliver that runoff to a drainage system. The benefit is that it prevents water from draining into the grass. Some areas don’t have established grades, so water is soaking underneath the pavement. Over time, that’s where you see that what we call alligator cracking.”
Councilman Mike Ranum said when the Ash and Main Street project was done, they were told curb and gutter was the standard.
“You create the standard,” said Bittner, meaning the council decides the scope of the project.
Edmonson asked what would happen to the roads if the city did nothing for a few years.
“You would have potholes and other issues as the pavement continues to degenerate,” said Bittner.
He also said patching would not alleviate any drainage issues. Neither would a reclamation and overlay project.
Ritzer asked if the council could just get an idea of the basic cost for a reclamation project.
“I understand we need to do a feasibility study before we commence the project,” he said. “But do we need to do one before we get a ballpark price on reclamation, rather than doing a feasibility study to get that price.”
Bittner said he could do a cost analysis similar to the one that was available at the open house. But it would be a rough estimate.
That’s what the council agreed to before they make any decision on a feasibility study. Bittner said he could have the information for the next council meeting.
They did, however, vote to move ahead with investigating the condition of the watermain. If there is substantial deterioration, a section might have to be replaced regardless of the scope of a street project.
The council is also looking into locating a disc with survey information from 2005 that was done for the same project.
CW Estates Drainage
The council awarded the contract for the Clearwater Estates Drainage Project to Gertken Brothers, Inc. from Richmond, MN at $27,765.50. Nine companies bid on the project. The engineer’s estimate was $30,350.
The project includes dredging a lowland area that currently serves as a drainage area.
Along with the awarding of the contract, council approved a storm water drainage pond and utility easement, and temporary construction access easement.
At the recommendation of the city’s insurance agent Tony Velishek, the council declined no-fault sewer coverage and water main break coverage as offered by the League of Minnesota Cities because the city is already covered under its other insurance.
Other Business
In other action the council:
* Directed Maintenance Supervisor John Schmidt to work with Xcel to get a price for the replacement of street lighting at the shopping center;
* Set spring clean-up day for April 24, 2014;
* Certified 11 unpaid utility bills totalling $4,094.29 to the county to be added to the tax assessment;
* Declined an invitation to become a member of the I-94 Corridor Coalition;
* Approved a letter of support to the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the National Geographic Geotourism Project that would promote national and local tourism;
* Approved soliciting request for proposals for sidewalk snow removal services;
* Approved the purchase of a 4’x8’ trailer from Steve and Sue Vergin for $150 to be used for hauling park refuse.


MAX LOFGREN, getting fitted for a bike helmet by Scott Barta, told his mom Alisha the Bike Rodeo was “...the best place in the whole world.”

LIBERTY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL THIRD GRADERS made the audience shiver and shudder Tuesday night with Squirm!, their musical about creepy crawlie creatures. The production had lots of choreography with the singing as well as speaking roles and percussionists. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

Kara Zoller, Health Promotions Supervisor