County garage, roadwork, swim pool, dam, Pelican-Maplewood trail, school parking lots will funnel big bucks into Pelican area 2022-25

With a long list of public works plans, projects; Pelican will be something of a lake county “boom town” for near future…

Otter Tail County’s plans for a new, regional highway department building in Pelican Rapids include connection to city sewer-water—at a cost of about $290,000. 

The county garage is just one small line item on a big list of public works projects over the next four years, in the immediate Pelican area alone.

From highway reconstruction to swimming pools to dam removal to school parking lots, spending will exceed $30 million on various public works initiatives. And—these are only the projects on the radar right now. Additional local, county or state projects could materialize any time. 

Meanwhile, inflation, worker shortages and the unsteady flow of supplies and materials create a shrowd of uncertainties with construction bidding and expenses. 

County garage set for Pelican in 2022

The new Otter Tail truck garage, which will be constructed in 2022 in the northwest part of the city near the industrial park, has been a work in progress for about two years. A key part of the county’s plan was municipal sewer and water service.

The extensions would be at county cost, but under an arrangement where the city would be reimbursed for the expense, explained Bob Schliemann, Apex Engineering, the city’s consulting firm. 

The timeline would call for bids in March 2022, with construction probably in June. 

The city has 8 and 10 inch sewer main lines to the industrial park. The connection distance is relatively short, but expensive. The $290,000 estimate includes about $52,000 in engineering fees. Schliemann said his firm Apex would bill the city by the hour, since it is a relatively small project. 

Pelican a hotbed of public works 2022-25 

Bidding for the county highway building project will be an interesting indicator of the construction and public works climate, going forward. 

“It looks like there’s a lot of work out there,” said Schliemann. 

With numerous public works projects in the region, the high demand for contractors may strain availability. 

Engineer Schliemann said he’s “more concerned about supply chain issues” than contractor availability, in the near term. 

Pelican alone will be keeping contractors busy, not only this summer but all the way to 2025. 

The very large Highway 108 and 59 MnDOT reconstruction is slated for 2024-25. The Pelican dam removal and river restoration project will likely extend from 2022 to 2023. 

To top it off, the city swimming pool and aquatic center is shovel ready for 2022-23—depending on several grant and financing uncertainties. The pool represents another $4 million in public works.

Even a seemingly small renovation of Pelican’s former senior citizen center, as public restrooms and a small community center, could add another $1 million to the list. 

Meanwhile, the Pelican school district will be taking bids this spring for a substantial parking lot improvement project—totalling an estimated $1.4 million. Other Pelican school capital improvement projects, such as major air-handling upgrades, are also on the agenda.

Finally, work on the Pelican to Maplewood State Park stretch of the recreational trail is on the horizon for 2022-24. 

OT county garage to make Pelican a highway dept. hub 

The Otter Tail County garage is in itself an economic development boost for Pelican. 

The highway department facility will consolidate current county satellite facilities in Erhard and Vergas to one larger operation, centralized in Pelican. This means the West Otter Tail County highway staff will be headquartered year-round in Pelican—which has the potential of delivering a modest boost in retail sales, and lunch counter and convenience store traffic. 

Same goes for all the other public projects on the list. With all the contractors and workers in and around Pelican over the next few years—there will be lots of mouths to feed. This traffic should bolster sales at local eateries and other establishments. 

Commercial, business building will add to list

Taxpayer-funded public projects aren’t the only influx of money in the Pelican area.

Add to the list some of the commercial developments, known and unknown at this point. For example, the current, extensive Bell Bank renovation of the former Wells Fargo site will keep crews busy for nearly a year by the time the project is complete. 

Take an inventory of all these developments and; despite all the associated construction disruptions and frustrations; Pelican Rapids will be something of a “boom town” for the foreseeable future.