City nixes narrowest street option
Perham city leaders have pared down the number of options that people can choose from on a major street improvement project planned for the southwest side of town, taking the idea of a 36-foot-wide street off the table.
Residents who attend a public hearing on the matter on Monday will still have a say in whether to keep the affected streets at their current 50-foot width or narrow them down to 44 feet, and can weigh in on the construction of sidewalks.
At a meeting last week, city councilors agreed that it wouldn't make much sense to narrow 50-foot-wide streets down as far as 36 feet, but seemed to like the idea of bringing them down to 44.
The $43,000 cost savings of doing so would be "considerable," said councilor Fred Lemkuhl.
It would also allow property owners in affected areas to save more trees; otherwise, anything within three feet of the curb would need to be removed during construction in order to give trucks the clearance they need.
Newer streets in town (post mid-1990s) are all 44 feet wide, according to Jade Berube of Apex Engineering Group, which is working with the city on this project.
Berube, along with City Manager Kelcey Klemm, made the suggestion that just two street width options be presented to the public at the hearing, in order to offer up a more defined plan - including clearer tax assessment estimates.
As previously discussed at a city council meeting in January, Perham is planning to do some major water infrastructure work and service and storm sewer improvements this summer, along 3rd Ave. SW between 2nd and 7th streets, and on 6th St. SW between 3rd and 4th avenues.
The cost is expected to exceed $1 million, but narrowing the street and/or skipping the sidewalk options would save some money. Constructing sidewalks along both sides of the streets would cost about $100,000; constructing a sidewalk along one side would be about $50,000.
Councilors didn't reach much of a consensus on sidewalks, with some favoring them as part of a Safe Routes to School plan, and others preferring to save money by leaving them out of the project.
Ultimately, as with the street width, the decision will be up to residents.
"I think we should let the public voice their opinion on the sidewalks - one side, both sides, or no sides at all, let them decide," said mayor Tim Meehl.
Details about how this work will be assessed - as well as other major work planned for the downtown area this summer - are expected to be released at the public hearing. Klemm said he's gotten some calls from residents questioning the projects, and expects a good turnout.
The hearing will be at City Hall this Monday, Feb. 11, starting at 5:30 p.m.