By Louis Hoglund
The city hall chambers were nearly packed for a public hearing outlining $3.6 million in proposed street, sewer, water and utility improvements.
With about 30 packed into the meeting room with the Pelican Rapids City Council, it was as large a crowd as the city had hosted in years.
The reason for the unusually full chambers: One of the most extensive and scattered array of city improvements in years.
“It spans from the north end of town to the south end,” said city engineer Bob Schliemann, Apex Engineering.
Unearthing crumbling 70-year-old clay sewer pipe; street renovation; sidewalk repair; curb and gutter; and water lines are among the various upgrades on the list. Some of the dozen sites are complete renovations; some are less extensive.
“Some of the sewer lines were televised,” said Schlieman, using underground camera technology. “There are aging conditions…clay pipe is cracked, broken–with tree roots invading the pipes.”
Some of the fire hydrants scheduled to be replaced date back to the 1940s.
Sewer work is targeted for 6th St., 1st Ave., and 2nd Ave., all SE; and 6th St. NE–in some cases to eliminate the need for mechanical lift stations to move the wastewater downstream by installing lines to flow by gravity.
Several homeowners expressed concern that some development in those neighborhoods was not completed correctly in the first place. Property owner Chet Nettestad said the city should have held the developers to correct standards at the time.
But city street superintendent Brian Olson responded that these developments preceed the current council, and most city staff, by decades.
“We’re trying to look to the future,” said Olson, adding that the current city council can’t correct problems from the past. “These are not the only scenarios in town–believe me.”
Preliminary cost figures suggest that property owners will shoulder about $1.5 million of the cost of the projects. The city’s share is estimated to be $2.1 million.
Engineer Schlieman stressed that the information was very preliminary at this stage.
The city will be making a determination on which areas to proceed with in the near future.