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Senior project manager Phil Martin discusses the southeast infrastructure project with residents during a May 20 open house at the main fire hall.

Council moves forward with SE revamp

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The comprehensive project to upgrade streets, sewers, sidewalks and water lines in southeast Wadena has entered the final design phase.

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The city council approved the preliminary plan at a nearly four-hour meeting June 10. Now engineers will spend the rest of the year fine-tuning the details in hopes of soliciting bids by early 2015.

“What we’re trying to do is get all this wrapped in a nice little bow by the end of the year,” Phil Martin, senior project manager for Bolton & Menk, told the council. “We want to get this in front of contractors when they’re the hungriest.”

For an estimated $9.4 million, the city plans to rebuild the infrastructure in 2015 (south of Dayton Avenue) and 2016 (north of Dayton).

About 40 percent of the rebuilt streets will be narrowed by 10 feet, a plan that drew criticism at public open houses. Martin said the reduced width will reduce the project cost, increase green space, reduce stormwater runoff, decrease speeds in residential areas and make the streets less appealing to trucks, which will now have a designated loop. It will still be possible to park on both sides of the street, he said.

Other residents complained about the plan for sidewalks. Within the designated sidewalk zone - in southeast Wadena it extends from the railroad tracks to Garfield Avenue and from Jefferson to 2nd Street - there will be sidewalks on both sides of the street. Outside of that zone, they will only be on one side of the street. Some sidewalks will need to be added to create continuity.

For detailed maps of the sidewalk and street width proposals, go to wadenapj.com.

Although the basics of the project have been agreed to, some specifics might be tweaked as final design proceeds, said City Administrator Brad Swenson.

“I think there’s room for discussion on some of the street widths in certain areas, sidewalks in a few different areas,” he said. “I think there’s some minor changes that can be made without changing the entire concept.”

Mayor Wayne Wolden said the city has to develop proactive policies to prepare for narrower streets.

“If we’re going to do this,” he said, “we’re going to have to have a solid plan in place for snow removal and parking - or it’s going to be a disaster and we’re going to be crucified for it.”

Southeast residents are expected to foot 20 percent of the bill for most of the project through special assessments, while all Wadena residents would split the rest through property taxes.

In other business June 10, the council:

  • Accepted a $415,307 bid from Tri-City Paving of Little Falls to upgrade the general aviation apron, tee grade hangar pavement, entrance gate, parking lot and entrance road at the municipal airport. With engineering and administrative costs, the project totals about a half million dollars. After federal and state grants are factored in, the local share is expected to be about $43,000.

  • Reviewed the 2013 city audit. The city received a “clean” audit opinion from EideBailly, which means its financial statements were prepared using generally accepted accounting practices, did not contain material misstatements and were fairly presented.

  • Heard an informational presentation about River Systems, a company interested in establishing a video-based call center in Wadena. The company “provides a wide range of easy-to-use computer-assisted capabilities for supporting seniors, families and communities, to help keep them connected with each other and with the organizations they rely on,” according to a document distributed to council members.

  • Approved two bids totalling nearly $81,000 to Pyramid Construction of Wadena for a unisex bathroom and walking trails at the southwest athletic complex. FEMA funds will pay for the project.

  • Purchased a used dump truck for $63,500 - more than $16,000 under budget.

  • Spent $16,160 for a precast concrete vault toilet at Blacks Grove Park.

  • Bought a 20-foot power slide gate for $9,695 from Oberg Fence of Deerwood. It will be placed at the entrance of the wastewater treatment plant, which is also used as the city’s impound lot, to improve security.
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