In September of 2020, the Wadena County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution establishing Greenwood Avenue in the City of Wadena as County State Aid Highway 92.
This establishment allows the county to request and access state aid to pay for improvements on the roadway. Prior to that, the avenue was the responsibility of the city of Wadena to maintain as a gravel road. The cost of improving the road in conjunction with planned infrastructure improvements along that route was not one the city was willing to embark on at this time. Under this arrangement, the county's cost of the project, estimated around $1.7 million, is paid for out of the county’s allotment of state aid. According to the cooperative agreement, the city is still paying for portions of the costs, though more accurate costs will not be known until bids are awarded.
The City of Wadena and Wadena County are planning to work together on a joint project to reconstruct this road to meet 10-ton standards and to bring city utilities to the new Tri-County Health Care complex. The city is scheduled to bring this item to their council for approval at their May 11 meeting.
In discussion, Commissioner Jon Kangas felt the benefit of such an improvement was largely for the city of Wadena.
“It sounds rather excessive to me,” Kangas said of the cost. He asked and confirmed that the street is entirely within the city of Wadena. He spoke further that were it not for Tri-County Health Care moving locations to Otter Tail County, this request would not be before the commission.
In response, Commissioner Bill Stearns said the cost was not that high considering the cost of road construction. County engineer Ryan Odden shared that the recent road work between Sebeka and Nimrod was about $10 million. He also suggested that if the county wanted to look at road improvements based on road use, this one has the potential for a great deal of use, 600-800 cars per day. Stearns said he believes the road will be an important path for ambulance traffic. The path needed to be updated in order to allow them to reach the hospital safely and quickly. Stearns added that while the project is in the city of Wadena, it’s a road leading to economic development.
“I think you are going to see economic development,” Stearns said. “You’re going to see economic development all over this area.” He suggested that residential and commercial construction would be likely.
Kangas said that may be economic development for the city of Wadena, but it’s the county that is supplying funding. Stearns shot back that the economic development that will come translated to more tax dollars for Wadena County.
“My end of the county, very few people even come to Wadena,” Kangas said. He represents residents in the Menahga area, in the northern part of the county.
The board approved entering into the cooperative agreement with the city for reconstruction of Greenwood Avenue from CR 169 to CSAH 20, in Wadena and bringing city utilities to the new TCHC Hospital site. All were in favor except Commissioner Kangas.
Odden shared that the road was expected to be constructed in 2022.
In other actions, the council:
- Approved the part-time solid waste attendant position description and reposting of the position internally and externally until filled. The position has been unfilled for over a year. The position was set at a grade 49.
- Approved the gambling permit for England Prairie Pioneer Club, Inc., for bingo and a raffle for the August 22, 2021, event.
- Approved the renewal of liquor license for Blueberry Pines.
- Approved the quote of the Wadena County parking lot striping project to Pavestripe LLC for the amount of $1,505 from the Non-Levy Building Fund.