Wadena's business park will be much more inviting to new business following the completion of a nearly $1.2 million development project this fall.

The project should get underway in the first week of September and be complete in early October. It’s been a project in need for some time now, according to Wadena Planning and Zoning director Dean Uselman.

“We purchased that land and started platting it in 2008,” Uselman said “It’s taken 11 years."

A lot of that waiting involved the 2010 tornado that came through town. There were other priorities at that time and since.

“Now we are at a point where we have time and we were awarded funding from DEED,” Uselman said.

The city was awarded a 50/50 grant from DEED’s Business Development and Public Infrastructure Grant. DEED is cost sharing the project up to $688,945.50. The actual project cost, which was awarded to J&J Excavating of Staples, was $1,182,166.75.

Uselman said he has had calls from businesses interested in these lots.

"We've got people kind of waiting in the wings," Uselman said.

The project includes 15 lots that will soon have electric, water, storm sewer and telecommunications utilities as well as paved streets, curbs and gutters. The project area covers about 20 acres just off Hwy 71 south of Wadena in the area to the west of Leaf River Ag. One business currently resides in the business park, Hunke's repair shop, would benefit from the city utilities to the site. Another business in the plans is a convenience store/gas station, both properties are owned by the Hunke family.

The streets in the project would create one main loop with two access points onto Hwy 71.

One side benefit to this project is that the water line running into the business park will connect to the southwest side of town and allow for a loop. Currently if the line were to fail, those in the industrial park area and Folkestad's East would be without water. With the loop, water could continue to be fed into the southeast side of town even if the current line fails.

This project was estimated to cost $1.3 million. Seven bidders tried for the job with J&J Excavating coming in with the low bid.

Industrial park positive

More good news came forth from Public Works director Dan Kovar during the Tuesday, Aug. 13 city council meeting. In a July meeting, council members heard that Nguyen Auto Body was looking to relocate to a lot in the industrial park. That lot however had a bad water main to the site. At the time it was unknown what the costs may be, but after further inspection and work, it appears the utility fix was far less expensive and extensive than expected.

In other business, the council:

  • Had the first reading of ordinance No. 225. This amends an ordinance related to hawkers, peddlers, transient merchants and solicitors.
  • Approved awarding a sidewalk repair bid to ML Schmitt Concrete Construction, Inc. of Sebeka. It was the only bid received for the work, which includes a price of $14.95 a foot. About seven areas were identified in the city in need of repair.
  • Awarded the 2019 Overlay Project Contract to Central Specialties, Inc. in the amount of $116,959, with Freshwater Education paying $24,000 of the cost as a portion of the project includes paving on an access to the new Freshwater building. The project also includes overlay for Fifth Street, starting at Franklin Drive SW and going south to Irving SW. Work is to be completed by Oct. 1.
  • Authorized the purchase and placement of flashing pedestrian crossing signs at a cost of $9,172.96. That's only half the cost as the WDC School is paying the other half of the project. The signs would be installed at the intersections of Colfax Ave SW and 3rd St SW, and Colfax Ave SW and 5th St SW. They would be push button controlled and these lights will not replace a police presence during the bus loading and unloading time periods at the start and end of school. The project was at a significantly higher price than originally estimated, but council members supported the need to complete this project and were in favor of the project.
  • Authorized entering into a professional services contract with Bolton and Menk for the Tri-County Health Care utility extension and annexation project. With TCHC deciding to move forward with a proposed hospital outside of the city's utilities, comes the city's desire to serve them. That means annexation and extension of utilities, which signals the need for engineering assistance. Bolton & Menk will assist with early utility planning and provide general assistance with the annexation process. The city expects the scope of services to change as the project proceeds. An amended proposal will be before the council at a later date.

Approve the consent agenda including the following items:

Massage License Application Submitted by Courtney Kern.

Approve the Massage License Application Submitted by Jamie Erckenbrack, dba Inner Balance Massage Therapy.