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Ottertail improvement projects in the works

The city of Ottertail is looking into a variety of city beautification and improvement projects during the coming year.

Members of the city council spent a significant portion of their Jan. 16 meeting reviewing the progress of these various projects.

“The pier project is on target,” reported council member Mike Windey, who also serves on the city’s planning committee.

According to Windey’s report, the committee’s goal is to purchase a handicapped-accessible pier in February for a spring delivery. The $30,000 fishing pier will be constructed on Pelican Bay.

Next on the discussion list was landscaping for the city’s bike path. Council members authorized an application and a primary contact person (Tom Behm) in order to move forward with the landscaping project.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has put together a landscape plan, and representatives from the department will help Ottertail arrange for the landscaping. The city will be responsible for covering the costs of the plants and will be reimbursed once the project is complete.

Council members also spent some time discussing how to best approach updating sidewalks in the city’s older town area. The plan is to improve or replace old sidewalks on Main Street and Lake Avenue. New sidewalks are also being considered for Maple Avenue, from Main Street to First Avenue, and on the section of Main Street in front of Ottertail Home Center.

The city of Ottertail’s current policy is to have businesses cover the entire cost of the sidewalk in front of their property. A possibility of the city covering a portion of the costs was considered. This project will likely require some capital improvement expenditure.

Business owners in the affected area will be contacted and invited to a future meeting. At that time, the issue will be discussed in more detail. The city will also look into what surrounding communities have done when looking to improve the condition of their sidewalks.

The planning committee’s report also mentioned the need for new street paving on Main Street by the Ottertail Creamery and the Ottertail Home Center, Maple Avenue from Main Street to First Avenue. There is an additional small section needing paving on Lake Avenue by the Ottertail Community Center. Preliminary estimates for the paving project suggest the cost will be $40,000-$45,000.

In order to help the city better plan for the future and properly handle all of these improvements, the council approved a motion to move forward with a proposal from David Drown Associates to create a comprehensive plan for the city.

Traci Ryan, representing David Drown Associates, gave a presentation at the last council meeting explaining how their company will help the city with financial planning, comprehensive planning, and economic development.

A new member was also added to the council at the Jan. 16 meeting. Brad Carr was officially sworn in as the newest councilor.