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A $2 million project

By Staff | Oct 25, 2015

This overhead view shows a portion of Main Street near the Fifth Street intersection that will be a part of the two-block project in Blue Earth next summer. The City Council has now also added one block of Sixth Street to the plan.

It is a go for sure.

The Blue Earth City Council took a big step towards next summer’s Main Street utility replacement and street reconstruction project during their meeting last Monday night.

The council voted to accept the project feasibility report from Bolton and Menk, the city’s engineering firm.

And, the council also voted to hold a hearing on the proposed improvements for affected property owners. That hearing will be on Monday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. at the council chambers at the City Hall.

In addition, the council also voted to have the block of Sixth Street, between Main Street and Nicollet Street, added to the project next summer.

The major portion of the project will be Main Street between Fifth Street and Seventh Street.

The feasibility study shows the estimated costs of the project. The Main Street portion of the work is estimated to be $1.611 million, while the Sixth Street portion of the project comes in at $486,160.

That totals just over $2 million. A major portion of that amount will be paid by the county and state, since Main Street is designated as a County/State Aid Road.

The city of Blue Earth’s share is estimated to be $587,500, with Blue Earth Light and Water’s share for utilities is at $550,000.

The council’s decision to add the one block of Sixth Street to the project did not come without some discussion first.

“Why do we want to do both of these projects at the same time?” Councilman Russ Erichsrud questioned. “That seems like a bad idea it could be the worst time for it.”

He explained that it would limit access to downtown Main Street businesses that will already have limited access due to the work on the two blocks of Main.

City engineer Wes Brown said it could be possible to do the work on Sixth Street at a time Main Street is still accessible.

“Having both closed at the same time would be a worse case scenario,” Mayor Rick Scholtes said. “We would try and keep the businesses access open as much as possible.”

The reason to add the Sixth Street block was problems with the sewer lines and the poor condition of the street, the mayor added.

The council had to pass another resolution last Monday in order for the planning for the project to proceed. This one involved indemnifying the county from any liability resulting from having diagonal parking on Main Street.

This resolution did not pass unanimously, but was a 5-2 vote. Mayor Scholtes and councilman John Huisman both voted no.

Huisman said he was not comfortable taking on all of the liability for the parking change, when it is a County/State Aid Road.

“This concerns me, because we are accepting full responsibility, and it should concern every one of us,” Huisman said.

But, councilman Dan Brod replied that if it was a city street the city would be liable for any potential lawsuits anyway.

“It is not an issue because we are already responsible for all of our streets and properties, and we have other places with diagonal parking,” he said.

In other business, the council also held a hearing on a potentially dangerous dog as part of their regular meeting.

James Ihle had requested the hearing and stated that he disagreed with the designation.

His dog had bit a newspaper carrier, but Ihle said the dog was just protecting Ihle’s daughter.

“I had told him (the carrier) that I didn’t want the paper delivered anyway,” Ihle said. “My dog is not dangerous and has never been a problem, ever.”

Ihle said he was guilty of not having the dog on a leash, but did not want the dog labeled as potentially dangerous.

The council heard that the dog has all the proper vaccinations and is licensed with the city.

“I know this dog and it is a very gentle dog,” councilman John Gartzke said.

The council voted to uphold Ihle’s appeal and remove the potentially dangerous dog designation.

In other business at their meeting last Monday, the council:

Agreed to reduce three more assessments on properties in the Highland Drive project area.

Held a closed session at the end of the meeting to discuss the several items, including possible litigation against the city and the city administrator’s contract.

When they came out of closed session, the council voted to give the city administrator, Tim Ibisch, a $5,000 salary increase for the coming year.

Ibisch recently completed his first year of employment with the city.