Talk of quiet zones in Perham silenced for now
The consensus of the city council appears to be that the idea of quiet zones in Perham is a good one, but the city just can't afford it right now. The council has discussed the idea previously, but at the council's Committee of the Whole meeting ...
The consensus of the city council appears to be that the idea of quiet zones in Perham is a good one, but the city just can't afford it right now.
The council has discussed the idea previously, but at the council's Committee of the Whole meeting July 28 they decided in this time of tight money and tight budgets the proposal was just too expensive for the city to undertake now.
Consultants have been unable to provide the city with a firm estimate on the cost of installing quiet zone related equipment and completing related repairs or renovations, but the price tag could range as high as several hundred thousand dollars.
The first step in research-ing what the possible costs would be for quiet zones would be the completion of an assessment of the crossings in the city limits.
One consultant has offered to complete the assessment at a cost of around $17,000 and another at a cost of approximately $11,400, but still that's more money than the city can afford right now ac-cording to council member Harriet Mattfield.
"We don't have the money to do anything about this now," said Mattfield. "Why should we conduct an assessment if we don't have the money to do it?"
Mattfield then added, "It's just noise with which we've lived with all of our lives."
"We still need to consider for the future," said council member Jim Johnson.
Council member Fred Lehmkuhl then said the city should look at somehow put-ting some money in the budget for the assessment.
"Doing the assessment would give us a better handle on just what the costs would be," said Lehmkuhl. "Is there somewhere in the budget that we could start setting some money aside so we could do this assessment later?"
"We need to evaluate a lit-tle and put away a little (money) over the next couple of years for this," said Johnson.
The group then took no action, but the idea could possibly be discussed at upcoming budget meetings.
U.S. 10 and County
Highway 34 interchange
Perham Economic Development Authority Director Chuck Johnson told the Committee of the Whole that the chances of obtaining funding for construction of a new U.S. 10-Hwy. 34 inter-change are getting better, but are still not certain.
"The city has tried several different avenues for funding in the past. The most recent attempt is from a program authorized by legislature for money to be spent for interchanges," said Johnson. "Fifty percent of the funding must be for rural areas. The state indicates there is a possibility the city could tap into that source. The state would pay half of the project's cost and the local government would need to raise the other funds."
Johnson explained that the project has an estimated cost of about $7 million. Of that he said the state could pay $3.5 million. The remaining $3.5 million that would have to be paid by local sources could be divided with the $1.3 million cost estimate for design, engineering and pro-ject management costs to be paid for by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Otter Tail County.
"We've also had some discussions with private donors for possibly as much as $400,000 of that cost," said Johnson. "The city could donate land near the hospital that is valued at $80,000."
That would leave an estimated $1.72 million to be found to pay the remaining costs.
Johnson said he has had discussions with Minnesota representatives in Congress about the possibility of a fed-eral appropriation.
"But the earliest a commitment could be made would be late 2011 with funding available in 2012," said Johnson. "This might not be soon enough, since the state will be announcing re-cipients of the interchange grant money at the end of 2010."
Council members urged Johnson to keep holding dis-cussions with parties who could possibly provide pri-vate donations and with members of Congress who might be able to have a fed-eral appropriation approved.