Otsego City Council approves street assessments

 Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing writer

The Otsego City Council helped ease the minds of several homeowners before approving assessments for a project to overhaul LaBeaux Avenue between 75th and 80th Streets.

The project will pave the gravel road, replace driveway culverts and regrade the ditch to improve drainage and prevent frost boils, which have made the road almost impassible at certain times of the year. Access to LaBeaux Avenue at 75th Street from County Road 19 will be closed off, and a cul de sac will be constructed in its place.

Carol Fernholz, whose house is located where the new cul de sac will be constructed, was concerned about a school bus stop in front of her house where two buses pick up students in the morning and two drop off in the afternoon.

City Engineer Ron Wagner told the council of the cul de sac, “It’d be a pretty deep ditch going down around it.”

The council discussed several options, including a path over or through the ditch to allow access. Mayor Jessica Stockamp said that she didn’t know the specific rules of the St. Michael-Albertville School District, which has the bus stop on LaBeaux Avenue, but she knew that the Elk River School District has a policy that they won’t have a bus travel into a cul de sac at all.

The council directed staff to initiate discussions with the bus company to ascertain whether or not they would just move the bus stop a short distance away or whether the city needed to make the cul de sac accessible for the school children.

Another property owner, Elizabeth Specht, was concerned that she and her neighbors were being assessed before the project was even begun and, thus, paying interest before the work was even completed.

Councilmember Tom Darkenwald did some quick calculations and the council agreed to reduce the assessment by the amount of interest that would accrue before the project was completed, about $60.

The council is expected to award the contract in early August and construction is planned for shortly thereafter.

In other matters, the council discussed the feasibility of a road improvement project on Needham Avenue between 80th and 85th streets. The original plan was to replace a broken storm sewer pipe underneath the road and improve the ditches alongside the road to improve drainage. However, initial quotes came in 50 percent over the original estimate, so Wagner proposed a scaled-back version of the project to keep it near the original sum.

City staff sent a televised scope down the pipe and found that there was only the one breakage that they already knew about and only two small spots of some root infiltration to contend with. They agreed that dividing the project into phases, with replacing just half of the pipe and improving the ditches as phase one, was an option worth pursuing.

Though the mayor and some residents were wary of having to do more work and assessments in the future if the other half of the pipe failed, the council agreed to solicit quotes for phase one.