City seeks out grants in tight budget times
by Joni Astrup
Elk River’s city budget is tight, and officials are looking for cash in the form of grants.
A number of grant requests are in the pipeline. Here is a rundown, according to city officials.
Water and storage at Hillside City Park
The city is seeking a federal recreational trail grant through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Parks and Trails. The grant would help pay for the installation of drinking water in the front parking lot of Hillside City Park, 10801 181st Ave. Currently there is no water available at the park. The grant would also help pay for a larger storage building at the park. The current one is 8 by 10 feet and too small.
The city is applying for a $17,300 grant. It would require a 50 percent match, which would come from user fees people put in a donation box at the park.
Youth Athletic Complex Lighting Project
The city hopes to get a grant to install lighting at four fields at the Youth Athletic Complex, 9850 165th Ave. The funds would come from an Outdoor Recreation Grant through the DNR Division of Parks and Trails.
Having the lighting would increase playing time and help make up for the projected loss of a field at Oak Knoll once the public works facility is expanded.
Lighting the four fields would cost about $485,000; the grant would cover up to half the cost. The city’s share would be included as part of the cost of the public works expansion project.
Lake Orono Fishing Pier
The Lake Orono public fishing pier was built 25 years ago under an agreement with the DNR. This agreement is ending and the DNR is asking the city to enter into another 25 year agreement to maintain the pier. By doing so, the DNR would provide all materials to refurbish the existing pier. The city would provide the labor to refurbish the pier in the spring.
The fishing pier is located at Orono Park, 18599 Gary St.
City Hall Solar Thermal Heat/Reheating Project
The city has received a $49,558 local government renewable energy grant for 16 solar collector panels to be installed on the roof of Elk River City Hall, 13065 Orono Parkway. Bids were opened Feb. 9 and are being evaluated, according to Finance Director Tim Simon.
Solar Lighting Project on the Great Northern Trail
The city has applied for a grant for solar lighting along the Great Northern Trail, a recreational trail that runs on an old railroad bed from Meadowvale Elementary to the northern city limits.
It’s a $120,150 solar energy legacy grant which would cover up to 75 percent of the cost. The city match would be the other 25 percent.
The plan calls for lighting the trail tunnel under County Road 33. The lights would turn on when motion sensors detect a trail user approaching.
“After they (trail users) go through, after so much time, the system should shut back down,” said Parks Supervisor Rodney Schreifels.
Also envisioned are two overhead street lights on the trail at 221st Avenue. In addition, there would be flashing pedestrian lights where people cross 221st and 500 feet in each direction would be “Trail Crossing Ahead” signs with a flashing beacon.
This system would also be motion activated.
Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent Reuse
The city applied for a $308,504 grant in partnership with Great River Energy to fund half the cost of a project.
“It gives funds for projects that reuse wastewater effluent for industrial purposes to offset potable drinking water from the domestic system or private wells,” according to City Engineer Justin Femrite.
The city recently learned that it has been awarded a $285,740 Beneficial Wastewater Effluent Reuse Grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. That would fund 46 percent of the project cost.
The city will be meeting with Great River Energy to review engineering proposals for the project; the City Council is scheduled to discuss the matter Feb. 22.
Once the city has more information, it will decide if it should move ahead with the project or not.
The city is working with the Minnesota Land Trust to acquire Bailey Point for a park. The point is a piece of land west of downtown at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk rivers.
City Administrator Lori Johnson said there may be grant opportunities to fund a portion of the city’s acquisition cost. A preliminary application was submitted and accepted by the DNR. A final application is due March 31.