NYM City Council moves ahead with '09 street improvement plans

Kevin Cederstrom Street projects and special assessments seem to always draw a good crowd. About 20 interested property owners attended a hearing Monday as the New York Mills City Council and engineer presented the preliminary repo...

Kevin Cederstrom

Street projects and special assessments seem to always draw a good crowd.

About 20 interested property owners attended a hearing Monday as the New York Mills City Council and engineer presented the preliminary report for 2009 street improvements.

Following the hearing, the council voted to move forward with plans.


Facing potential assessments of nearly $20,000 for a 100-foot lot, property owners looked at the plan, asked questions, and provided comments for the council to consider as it moves forward with the project.

The proposed improvements include replacing street, watermain, and storm sewer on portions of Gillman, Hayes, Walker, Van Aernam, Nowell, and Frazee Streets. Jon Pratt of Ulteig Engineers presented the proposed plan and according to his report, total cost of the proposed project is an estimated $2.3 million. Of that total cost, about $1.23 million would be assessed back to the property owners, while the city's share would be slightly under 50 percent at $1.06 million.

Pratt told the property owners this project is included in the city's 5-year Capital Improvement Plan, which involves a number of infrastructure improvement projects. The Broadway/67 and Park Street improvements a couple years ago was one such CIP project, as is the water tower repainting project.

Streets slated for improvement in next summer's project on the north side are Walker from Park Street to Gillman; Gillman west from Walker to Centennial Drive; Hayes from Centennial to Gillman.

South of the tracks the project includes Van Aernam west 1,000 feet from S. Walker; Nowell Street from Boardman Avenue to Walker; and Frazee Street from Nowell to Van Aernam.

Following Pratt's presentation, Mayor Larry Hodgson opened the hearing up for questions and comments.

Improvements to Hayes and Gillman should alleviate some drainage problems in that area which occur any time there is a heavy rain.

Donna Larson, who lives on Gillman, is pleased the city is looking to improve the streets.


"I'm very glad you are considering my back yard," Larson told the council. She said her back yard takes water runoff from the parking lot at Kaleva Apartments, and in cases of real heavy rain like a few years ago she spend four days removing water from her basement.

Larry Selander, who lives on Hayes Street, asked wouldn't it make more sense to charge everybody in the community, instead of just the property owners along those streets. Pratt responded by saying this is a common question any time there is a large-scale street improvement project such as this one, with property owners basing their argument on the idea their property value will not increase as much as what they are being assessed.

Pratt indicated everybody is paying a share of the project through general taxation since the city is paying close to half the total cost. The other half will be paid for through special assessments to benefitting property owners.

Myrtle Wendt lives on the corner of N. Walker and Gillman. She wondered if just homeowners would be assessed or if places like Lund Boat Co., the school, and St. Peter's Church that contribute to the traffic on those streets would also share in the cost.

Pratt said yes, those places would share in the cost of the project. Mayor Hodgson indicated they need to meet with representatives from each of those to discuss assessments, since there is so much property involved. St. Peter's, for example, is in a unique situation where three sides of the church property are included in the project, which potentially could be extremely expensive based on the current assessment policy.

Comments and questions directed at the council and the engineer Monday were done in a civil and orderly manner, which isn't always the case when discussing special assessments potentially in the $10,000 to $20,000 range.

The street sections included in the project will be completely replaced including new storm sewers, watermains, sanitary sewers, and street resurfacing.

Wendt later asked about how the project would affect the landscaping she is doing at her house. Pratt said they would do their best to affect yards as little as possible when reconstructing the streets.


"I didn't put the glue on the blocks yet until I figure out where we're at," Wendt said at the hearing.

Mayor Hodgson thanked the property owners for attending the hearing and bringing up some very good questions. The mayor commented the cost estimates were calculated in July when gas prices were at an all-time high. He continued by saying hopefully with the settling of gas prices and oil prices going down the final project costs will also come down.

The council voted 3-0, with Bill Warner abstaining, to have the engineer move forward with the plans and specifications for the project.

Council sets preliminary levy

The City Council voted Monday to set the Proposed Preliminary 2009 Levy at $352,000. The preliminary levy would be a 6.1 percent increase over the 2008 final levy, which was set at $331,468.

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