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Wells council planning ahead

By Staff | Jul 30, 2017

Planning ahead. That was the name of the game for the Wells City Council during their regular meeting last Tuesday evening.

The council, sans councilwoman Crystal Dulas, had only three agenda items which were authorizing the city of Wells to submit a point source implementation grant application, and to accept bids for the Wells Business Park as well as a discussion on road improvements within the city.

City Engineer Travis Winter informed the City Council of a grant application available to the city from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA). Winter requested the city authorize its city officials to execute the grant application on behalf of the city of Wells for a water treatment improvement project.

Winter told the council this point source implementation, (PSI) grant would provide funds up to $7 million for the construction of a new water treatment facility. He said the city could repair what the city already has, but said, in summation, the project would be eligible to get up to $7 million. And, with 80 percent of the total cost of an entirely new water treatment facility funded by the grant, he encouraged the council to approve the grant application.

“If we look at the age of the water plant, it’s getting up there and it may be time to consider an upgrade and this could possibly create a new plant for us,” said Winter. “Say the plant was $10 million, you’d get $7 million from this grant to do that.”

Mayor David Braun questioned what type of water treatment would be put in place of the current one.

“It could be a lime softening treatment or a reverse osmosis treatment. Lime is what we’ve proposed in a few other cities,” said Winter.

Last year, the council spoke of a chloride problem regarding the wastewater chlorides in the Wells/Minnesota Lake/Easton area.

“To combat that, one of the proposed solutions was to soften water at the source before it got to the distribution system, causing people to turn down their water softeners,” said Winter. “Water softeners are the primary source of those chlorides. Currently (the water is) right around 35 to 40 grains hard I would guess, and what the plant would do is bring it down to five to seven grains hard. So, it’s going to be way better than it is now.”

Winter stated the city would look at regionalization with Easton and Minnesota Lake, putting a pipeline from their cities to Wells to use the potentially new plant to the tri-town’s benefit.

The council passed a motion to authorize the city of Wells to submit the PSI grant application. For clarification, the motion passed does not authorize the project itself, but authorizes the city to submit the grant.

The City Council also passed a motion to accept a bid contract for the Wells Business Park between Swenke Ims Contracting, LLC, of the Kasson area, but not without a few questions to be answered before their motion to approve the $1,845,826.70 bid.

The bid from Swenke Ims came in at just $2,000 lower than the second lowest bid.

“It was very competitive between pricing, as you can see. That is awful close; one of the closer bids I’ve ever dealt with. Some groups need work right now so when the market is flush, they put it up because they can, but the market is lean right now,” said Winter.

Councilman John Herman questioned whether Winter had worked with the Swenke Ims group previously to ensure their work was quality work.

“I have worked with the owner, Doug Ims, since 2007,” said Winter. “I also talked with one of my contacts in Northfield where they (Swenke Ims) did a street reconstruction project and they (the city of Northfield) have no concerns about working with the group in the future.”

With the council reassured of the bid and their questions answered, the motion to accept the bid was approved, with the Mayor voting in favor. The projected completion date for the Wells Business Park is Nov. 1 of this year, with the exception of curbing and pavement which has a projected completion date of June 1.

Lastly, in order to stay within this year’s budget, after finding one of the roads (Fifth Avenue NW) planned for mill and overlay this year does not have the proper base, the council approved Fourth Avenue SE to have mill and overlay.

City administrator Robin Leslie informed the council Third Avenue SE does not have a standard base.

“It’s a road over clay, and we would have to redo the base in order to do overlay work. I was talking to Mike (Pyzick, Wells street foreman) and told him I felt spending $50,000 on one block does not seem worth the dollars,” said Leslie. “If we were to find a street with a more standard cost of $20,000, we would stay within budget this year and could plan for this bigger project next year.”

Leslie felt moving the project just one block north would save the city considerable dollars.

“If you did Fifth Avenue and Third Avenue, you would be approximately $11,000 over budget. If you did Third and Fourth Avenues, you would still be in budget and potentially under budget, which could go towards some sidewalk rebuilding projects.”

The council approved the plan to move forward with mill and overlay for Third and Fourth Avenues, and to save the larger Fifth Avenue project for next year.

The council’s next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Aug. 14.