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Major construction projects planned in Perham

Major construction is set to begin in Perham within the next few years and City Manager Kelcey Klemm updated the public on the projects at the annual Economic Development Authority meeting on Feb. 1.

Construction on a $6.7 million Highway 10/34 interchange project is set to begin in 2012, Kelmm said. The diamond-shaped interchange is needed for emergency access to the new hospital on Coney Street, Klemm said.

"It's a long-term solution for future development in the area," he said.

About 380 new jobs are expected to be created from the project, which will include turning lanes to both mobile home entrances and to Second and Main streets.

Another major project the city hopes to accomplish within the next few years is expansion of its wastewater treatment plant. Flow is over the permitted level and capacity, Klemm said, and the city could be fined by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which could put a halt on any new construction.

The proposed solution includes replacing existing aeration equipment, put in a new aeration pond and upgrade the existing facility that is more than 20 years old, Klemm said. The changes are expected to cause rates to go up by 50 percent.

Right now the project is not fully funded and the city is continuing to look for funding sources, Klemm said.

"Timing is an issue," Klemm said.

The city had originally expected a 2011 start date on construction and is facing deadline pressure to get an application into the Public Facilities Authority. The PFA is a multi-agency authority that makes low-interest loans and grants available to finance infrastructure that might otherwise be unaffordable to communities if they had to borrow money for the projects at market rates.

The PFA deadline for projects is the end of March, Klemm explained, and all plans and specs have to be in. However, it isn't clear whether the agency has the funds to finance the Perham project.

"The program may not have enough money to fund our project in 2012," Klemm said.