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Assessments less than expected: Street projects move forward

Assessments for the downtown and southwest neighborhood infrastructure improve- ments will be less than first thought, and residents revealed no major concerns about the projects at public hearings last week.

Thus, construction will move forward as scheduled, beginning this summer and finishing up by fall.

Initial projections had estimated the cost of the southwest neighborhood project at more than $1 million, and the downtown project at nearly $240,000. Bids came in about 10 percent lower than anticipated, however, bringing the actual totals to $875,500 and $209,000, respectively.

The city will be picking up a large portion of those tabs, leaving about $300,000 to be assessed to affected southwest neighborhood property owners, and about $108,000 to be assessed to affected downtown property owners.

About 60 businesses will be assessed for the downtown project, at widely varying amounts depending on their property size and how much they’re expected to benefit from the improvements (though most assessments fall roughly within the $1,000 - $2,000 range).

About 70 property owners will be assessed for the southwest neighborhood improvements, at a rate of $85.38 per assessable foot for the street improvements, $1,095 each for sanitary sewer, and $1,250 each for water services.

These southwest assessments will be paid over a 15-year period, while the downtown assessments will be paid out over 10 years. City Manager Kelcey Klemm said property owners have the option to pay the assessments off in one chunk with no interest, or pay the assessments with their property taxes twice a year, at a rate 1 percent above the city’s bond rate.

A handful of residents and business owners at last week’s public hearings asked some basic questions and shared concerns, but no one spoke out in direct opposition to either project.

After the public hearings, Perham city councilors voted to move forward and accept the low bid on the projects, submitted by R.L. Larson Excavating Inc. out of St. Cloud, Minn.

City Engineer Jade Berube said construction in the southwest will begin after July 4, while the downtown work will begin after Labor Day. Both projects should be wrapped up by October.

Work in the southwest neighborhood will include water infrastructure reconstruction, sidewalk improvements, and service and storm sewer upgrades to five blocks along 3rd Ave. SW between 2nd and 7th Streets, and one block along 6th St. SW between 3rd and 4th Avenues.

Work downtown will impact the road and parking lot area behind Main Street businesses that run parallel to the railroad tracks, between 1st Ave. N and 3rd Ave. N. The project will fix drainage issues, add some stop signs, and add concrete gutters and islands to help with traffic flow. The entire area, which is currently littered with cracks and potholes, will be repaved.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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