The $3.9 million cost of the Industrial Park Improvement Project has raised concern from some residents.

More than two dozen citizens turned up to last week's special Perham City Council meeting to listen and voice their concerns about the project. The council was presented Feb. 26 with two different options for the project, with two different estimated costs: $3.9 million or $1.1 million.

The council ultimately approved Option A, the estimated $3.9 million project.

"I can see that it’s needed,” Roger Johnsen, owner of Roger’s Repair on Second Street Northeast, said Tuesday, March 3, a week after the meeting. “I don’t have an issue with the project itself, other than I was informed that the funding was a little bit off.”

The Industrial Park project has been planned for more than eight years, as the city has been working on securing grants and sources of funds in an effort to help reduce the burden of the cost on property owners. The proposed project would include the completion of utilities (sewer, water, and storm sewer) and street improvements to include pavement, curb, gutter and driveway construction.

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Currently, the city has secured $2.1 million in grants. However, councilors were informed by Curt Osterfeld at the Feb. 10 city meeting that a majority of property owners do not want the Industrial Parks Project completed as proposed, due to the cost to property owners.

Prior to attending the Feb. 26 public hearing, Johnsen had gotten his information from Osterfeld. Osterfeld informed him that grants would only be applied to the city’s side of the bill, leaving the property owners to pay more than normal, Johnsen said.

“From what I understand normally the city shares it 50/50,” Johnsen said. “I was under the understanding when I went to the meeting that it was the city 5 and us 90-- outside the grant money.”

Not having calculated the numbers himself, “personally I don’t see where the city getting some grants has any effect on our cost,” Johnsen said.

Due to the concerns voiced on Feb. 10, the council considered two options at the Feb. 26 special council meeting:

Option A, for new constructions and reconstructions:

  • Seventh Avenue Northeast from Main Street to Third Street.

  • Second Street Northeast from Seventh to Ninth Avenue.

  • Third Street Northeast from Seventh to Eleventh Avenue Northeast.

  • Fifth Street Northeast from Sixth Avenue to 450th Avenue.

  • 450th Avenue from County State Aid Highway No. 80 to 440th Street.

The estimated cost of Option A is $3,855,000; with $2,146,750 in state grants and $1,562,950 assessable from more than 47 properties.

Eleventh Avenue Northeast is a shared roadway with Perham Township and the inclusion of 11th will be determined based on the decision made by the township.

Option B, for reconstruction:

  • Seventh Avenue Northeast from Main Street to Third Street.

The estimated cost of option B is $1.1 million; with $750,000 in state grants and $300,000 assessable from more than 10 properties.

If the city were to go with Option B they would be forfeiting about $1.4 million in state grants if they did not finish and expand the Industrial Park infrastructure.

After hearing the concurrences and commits of citizens the city council decided to move forward with Option A. By moving forward they will be taking bids for the full scope of the project determining the actual cost of the project based on the contractor’s bids, all the cost are currently estimates.

Atruck pulls out the of the Seventh Avenue Northeast scale Friday morning, Feb. 28. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)
Atruck pulls out the of the Seventh Avenue Northeast scale Friday morning, Feb. 28. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)

Once the city has the bids they will hold a public assessment hearing where they will hear the thoughts and concerns of property owners concerning assessments. At that time the council will be able to decide if they want to accept a bid and move forward with the project.

Second Street already has a storm sewer and the purpose of going into second is to hook Seventh Avenue Northeast into the storm sewer. “I just got done paying for the sewer and I’m not looking forward to more payments,” Johnsen said, but the improvements on Second Street Northeast will help increase the property value and Johnsen does not expect the project to affect his business too much.

Reaction at the meeting

Property owners had a lot to say about the project at Wednesday's meeting, and the council had some answers:

  • Many property owners are for the project but do not like options A or B. They would like to see an Option C because property owners are willing to pay assessments, but want a lower assessment cost. The council is willing to listen and consider and legal Option C presented to them.

  • The pipes under Second Street are not that old and the plans would be keeping the street as a gravel road. Residents wanted to know the reason for including Second Street. The city says Second Street is in the plan because it is the closest storm sewer to Seventh Street. The city will be paying for the storm sewer.

  • The difference between developed and undeveloped properties is whether or not they are already hooked up to utilities.

  • New construction means utilities are hooked up and all street improvements are done, with the city paying for the storm sewer. Reconstruction means the city pays for the utility veins and 50% of the street cost, while the property owner pays for their utility hook up and 50% of the street cost.

  • Assessments are a necessary evil and in order for the growth of Industrial Park in the future the project will need to happen, currently, with the grants, the cost of the assessments and the project will be lower than waiting.

  • The project is being planned in phases which will limit the amount of time that the scale on Seventh Avenue Northeast is shut down due to the importance of the scale.

In other action

Also at Wednesday's special meeting, the Perham City Council:

  • Moved to grant O’Reilly Auto Parts the 10-foot building variance.

  • Passed the resolution to oppose the sale of strong beer, spirits and wine in grocery and convenience stores. The decision was made based on the concern for public safety. and to the amount that the Perham municipal liquor store provides to the cities general fund.

  • Approved to move forward with taking bids on the demolition of the old Perham High School. The bids will close on March 27 and the project is planned to start in July.