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Wadena City Council: Work on business park to begin in summer

Water was temporarily diverted from a flooded portion of road on Lincoln Ave. SW to a ditch area along the edge of Tapley Park last week in Wadena. Melting snow and rainfall created some flooded roadways around the city. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

With businesses ready to move in, construction is set to begin on Wadena's Business Park after over 10 years of waiting.

Council members approved entering into a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant application worth $688,945.50 during their last council meeting March 12. They'll use those funds along with $933,403.50 in city funds for a total of $1.62 million to build the infrastructure needed for the Wadena Business Park in southwest Wadena.

The business park includes Boardwalk Street and Park Avenue, outlot A and the easterly 100 feet of Lot 1, Block 3 of the Wadena Business Park Addition.

The costs from DEED funding will be divided into three categories sewer and water, $396,534; streets, $219,406; engineering, $73,005.

Costs to the city come from the following sources: Sewer Fund - $209,839.05; Water Fund - $359,397.90; General Fund - $221,166.55; Wadena Development Authority - $100,000; Wadena Development Authority lot sales $43,000.

Related to this project, the council approved entering into an amended professional services agreement with Bolton & Menk for the business park. The estimated fee for these services is $231,250. A portion of the cost will be reimbursed by a DEED grant. The original plan was for a gravel road and building removal, but an amended plan is for full utilities and a tarred roadway, a project construction cost around $1.3 million. The final design of the project should be complete in May or June, bidding in July/August and most construction to be complete by Oct. 15, 2019.

That's excellent news for Wadena Development Authority executive director Dean Uselman who has been working on this project since the park was platted in 2008. The project was derailed for a time because of the tornado destruction and years where funding was not available. He was glad to see the funding secured this year.

"We have a few lots sold and a few pending," Uselman said of businesses looking to build on the site.

Some of that construction will have to wait while the actual infrastructure is put into place.

In other board action, the board approved:

• Increasing the relief benefits from $2,750 to $2,805, or 2 percent per year of service to the retirement benefits within the Wadena Fire Relief Association. This increase is funded out of their benefit account. The motion was approved with all in favor except Mayor George Deiss.

The volunteer fire relief association is an entity that receives and manages money to provide retirement benefits for individuals providing the governmental services of firefighting and emergency first response. The fire relief is separate from the fire department and is governed by a board of trustees.

Fire department member Cody Yglegias brought the request to the council noting that the increase would have no added cost to the city of Wadena. He added that the relief association has contributed $31,100 to their own retirement since 2010. Deiss brought up that his concern was that many other cities he contacted do not contribute any to the fire relief. Yglesias said he had a list of cities that do contribute.

• Accepting a grant award from the MN DNR's local trail connections grant program for the Leaf River Recreational Trail System Bridge Replacement project. The city has secured $75,000 of the estimated project cost in non-state cash matching funds for this project. Under this agreement, the city must maintain the bridge for no less than 20 years.

• Authorized entering into a municipal advisory agreement with Northland Securities to secure bond funds required by MnDOT for the Highway 10 project. A representative will attend the April 9 council meeting to present the full financing information. The city needs to issue a $3.5 million short-term bond issue to provide funds to pay MnDOT for the City-share of the project. The City will begin to get reimbursed by MnDOT once the City-share of the overall project begins in the spring of 2020. The City should be fully reimbursed by MnDOT by Sept. 1, 2020.

• Entering into the Professional Services Agreement with Bolton-Menk for the TH 10 Utility Improvements Project. The total estimated fee for these services is $305,763. It is the City's understanding that 82 percent of $298,168, ($244,568) will be reimbursed by the bonding bill grant. The City is responsible for the remainder.

• The purchase of a Ditch Witch RT80Tf from Ditch Witch of Minn. and Iowa at a cost of $121,306.97. The budgeted amount for this purchase was $150,000. While the DItch Witch was the higher price of two units, it was a more capable machine, utilities superintendent Dave Evans discovered after the two were tested out.

• A massage license application for Samantha Olson.

• The closure of a portion of an alley behind 119 First St SE on April 20 for an Epicenter Church Easter event from 2 - 4 p.m.

• Hiring Blake Petrich as full-time police officer, filling the spot of retiring officer Norm Pettis, effective March 15.

• Authorizing 2018 year-end transfers including: Hemlock transfers to close the capital projects fund for Assessment #58A. The amount set up in the General Fund is a $98,788.10 receivable from special assessments. A portion of this amount will be collected yearly until 2028 to cover the expense. The SE Project transfers $2,235,407.83 out of the Capital Projects Fund to Funds 316, 601, and 604. The amounts will be used to help offset the debt payments that are paid out of these funds. The amounts are owed to PFA over the next 11 year, until the year 2030. A portion of the sewer, storm water, and water payments are levied each year as well.

• Amending the Fix-Up Loan policy to include emergency loan determinations and is reformatted throughout the document.

• Accepting a resignation letter from WDA board member Scott Pettit.

• Accepting the mayor's appointment of Kelly Wong to the Wadena Development Authority Board, filling Pettit's seat.


Freezing pipes, flooding

Electric and water superintendent Dave Evans noted that some water lines have been freezing as the frost line inches deeper. He suggested some homeowners may want to keep the water running at a trickle to keep pipes from freezing. He noted areas between Colfax and Irving as problematic areas.

City officials also noted that any complaints heard about the condition of County Highway 4 should be forwarded to Wadena County as it is a county state aid highway.