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Enger questioning proposed improvement

By Staff | Feb 1, 2010

Mike Enger

At least one resident of Fourth Street was not happy with what he heard at last Monday’s public hearing on a $2.8 million project.

Mike Enger, who lives above a business he owns on Fourth Street, took issue with several parts of the proposed project.

Enger says his block of Fourth Street, just east of Main Street, is in excellent condition.

“I can’t see being assessed $8,000 for a new street when the current one is just fine,” he told the Blue Earth City Council at the hearing.

Enger says he investigated having ‘sleeves’ inserted into the cur-rent sewer mains so that the street could be saved from being torn up and replaced – at least in the two concrete surface blocks just east and west of Main Street.

City Engineer Bill Sayre says putting in sleeves does not actually save any costs in the long run.

“The street still would have to be torn up to attach individual lines to the main,” he says. “In the long run, it is a wash (in cost).”

Enger also expressed surprise to learn his parking area in front of his business was going to be eliminated.

The plan calls for a new curb, boulevard and sidewalk. That would replace the current concrete boulevard area in front of his business which Enger uses for parking.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the decision to not replace the parking area was made at a Street Committee meeting just the previous week. They did not feel there was enough room to park vehicles there without being partially over the sidewalk or in the street.

“The City Council has not yet made a decision on the Street Committee’s recommendation,” she says.

Enger’s third concern was about a storage garage next to his office/home building. The Fourth Street plan calls for sewer and water hook up to that building, although it currently does not have any.

“I don’t see why I should pay $3,300 for these hookups when there isn’t water in the building,” Enger says.

Bailey and Sayre say the reason involves preparing for future uses. They point out a new owner of the building could use it as a shop or other business.

“We don’t want to tear up a new street to put water and sewer in later, so we want to stub it in now,” Bailey explains.

Mayor Rob Hammond told Enger his concerns would be addressed by the Street Committee and the City Council.

Resident Ron Nesbitt also owns a business building – and lives in it – on the corner of Fourth and Main. He says he got “nicked” pretty good with an assessment for Main Street and now faces one for Fourth Street.

He, too, questioned the wisdom of tearing up a perfectly good street.

In fact, Nesbitt questioned the need for the project at all.

“Why do we need this,” he questioned. “Can we really afford a $2 million project?

Sayre responded that the need comes from having a worn out sanitary sewer line, as well as an undersized storm sewer main.

“It is part of our overall plan,” he says. “It should help alleviate problems we have with infiltration of ground water into the sanitary sewer line.

He adds that it can help with problems of sewer backup in the area as well.

“This storm sewer line carries water run off from 180 acres,” Sayre says.

Enger and Nesbitt also asked about what the next step would be in filing an objection to the assessment.

“This really bites,” Enger told the council, referring to a double assessment and losing his parking spaces.