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Easton to get its water from Wells (the city)

By Staff | Jun 16, 2019

The city of Easton will be working together with the city of Wells to service the future water needs of Easton.

Last Monday, June 10, during Wells’ regular City Council meeting, Jeff Amy of Wells Public Utilities and Jon Rath of the Easton City Council were both in attendance as they presented a letter of intent to the city of Wells.

Amy told the council he had been talking with the city of Easton with regards to their water plant, which he says is not fixable and the size of the town would not support the cost of a new one, with an approximate price tag of $1.5 million.

“Wells Public Utilities has plenty of capacity with our water system, and there are plenty of grants available to be able to provide these services,” said Amy. “If the city of Easton can build the infrastructure to Wells, we can provide water service.”

The letter of intent states that as soon as funding can be secured, the city of Easton will upgrade their in-town infrastructure, including water mains and property services. Following that, it is the intention to extend water services from the city of Wells and to be managed by Wells Public Utilities for the city of Easton. The letter states assistance will be provided from USDA, PFA and MDH along with other state and local entities.

Wells’ city engineer, Travis Winter, stated they are using Hartland and Freeborn as a model for this plan, since those towns also entered into a similar agreement.

There were some concerns as to whether Wells’ water use would be able to support Easton.

“Easton’s water use is so small, we won’t even notice it,” assured Amy. “There are approximately 50 households from Easton. There are some manufacturers in the city of Wells that use more water than the entire number of households we are bringing in from Easton.”

Councilman John Herman was the first to make the motion to approve the letter of intent, while councilwoman Crystal Dulas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

The council also went into deep debate over a proposed railroad crossing stop arm project for Third Street. Canadian Pacific and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are adding a railroad crossing stop arm system at the Third Street crossing. The road was recently resurfaced and this project is hoped to create a safer crossing, especially with the tracks askew to the road. The issue is with the gravel road (Fifth Avenue SE) that also junctions in the general area. It is a gravel road which provides access to Franklin Street.

City administrator CJ Holl presented three potential options for the city.

One would be a two-arm system, which would vacate the section of Fifth Avenue SE from Third to Franklin. In this plan, the county would install bump curb to discourage cross traffic, the city would have to reclaim gravel and seed, and there would be possible barrier installation. It would be the least costly and safest option with $15,000 coming to the city from MnDOT. It would promote the use of a turn lane to Third Street versus the current shortcut, which Wells Police say has been an issue in the past, and would not require the city to remove any street lights. The two concerns with this option is there are two businesses in that area which may lose access, and the second concern is a lengthy vacation process which includes a public hearing, publication in newspapers and other local publications, as well as property notifications.

Option two given to members of the City Council was a four-arm system with additional cross arms on Fifth Avenue SE. In this plan, the road would need to be narrowed via bollards, barriers and a possible resurfacing. The benefits to this plan would be maintaining access to Franklin Street to the south to Third Street, as well as the cost for the arms being covered by MnDOT, Canadian Pacific (CP), and Faribault County. The potential concerns include the cost of the four arm system and the road improvements, which the city may have to pay for, as well as the concern for safety and people still using the gravel access to cut across.

The third option was to take it back to CP and MnDOT to inform them the city is not interested in adding the stop arms.

“You’re trying to change traffic that’s been that way for what, a hundred years?” stated Herman.

Holl then took the time to explain a situation when he lived in Perham, Minnesota. An intersection existed there much like the one in Wells and someone lost their life due to the lack of safety at the intersection.

“We can’t throw safety out the window due to inconvenience,” he said. “This is something the railroad is planning on doing and it is difficult to change their minds.”

Bill Grozkreutz, one of Faribault County’s commissioners and life-long citizen of Wells spoke up as well.

“You have to remember, the railroad was here first, that’s why Wells is here,” he said.

Ultimately, the council agreed that more information on this potential project was needed before they could make any definitive decisions.

Grozkreutz was also at the council meeting for business. He was a representative of the Wells Ambulance Service who gave the council a civics lesson on the joint powers agreement the city has with the Wells Ambulance Service. The volunteer-based EMT?team is requesting participation from the city for crack fill on their pavement.

“I fully support the Wells Ambulance Service and make a formal motion to pay all of the $1,500 for the crack filling,” said councilwoman Dulas. A second was made by Herman and the motion passed unanimously.

In their regular meeting, the council also:

Heard from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation CEO Tim Penny on an update of SMIF’s ever-growing presence in Wells.

Approved a joint powers agreement between the city of Wells and the Faribault County Humane Society. Chief of Police Tim Brenegan stated the city currently takes all of their impounded animals to All Pets in Mapleton.

“It seems like the last few years our costs are going sky high,” said Brenegan. “Joining the Faribault County Humane Society would save us significant dollars and give us access to animal control if it were needed. Last year, we spent approximately $23,000 in costs to All-Pets because we pay for all of the costs. In county cost is $750 and we would have the support of the county.”

A motion was made by mayor David Braun and a second was made by Herman to approve the joint powers agreement with the Faribault County Humane Society.

Received an update on Sixth Street from Winter, who requested a substantial completion extention to July 1, citing the crews working on the project have had a few delays on other projects. Street foreman Mike Pyzick echoed the suggestion of extention stating the hope is that the wear course on the new street would not get messed up with other work (such as sod and signage) being done. The council approved the extension as well as a change order of $8,907.21, and a pay request for the street project.

Discussed the incubator building, which could be the possible future site of the city liquor store, and its sewer concerns.

Received quotes on improving the north side of the Bidne building. The council also discussed the possibility of selling the now grass lot at the corner of West Franklin and South Broadway.

Set their next regular meeting for July 8, at 5 p.m.