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BE may expand 2021 street projects

Sanitary sewer may be added to the Bartel Drive part of project

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Feb 21, 2021

A report on an issue with one of this coming summer’s street projects in Blue Earth turned into a lengthy discussion at last Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Part of the 10th and Nicollet Streets reconstruction project included hooking up a new water line to neighboring Bartel Drive, as well as a mill and overlay of that street surface.

However, Monday night, city engineer Wes Brown, of Bolton and Menk, reported a sewer line inspection had discovered that a sanitary sewer line currently goes underneath two homes on Bartel Drive and hooks into another home on Main Street.

“A shared sewer line like this can cause problems when it gets plugged or does not work,” Brown said. “It should be put into the street with lines into the homes from the street.”

That would add an extra $200,000 to the project, both for the new sewer line and then for repaving the street, for a full reconstruct and not just a mill and overlay, Brown explained.

The discussion was about the rise in assessments to the local property owners. One increase would be for the sewer line, which would include a hook up fee for the residents, and the other would be going from $16 per foot for mill and overlay to $82 per foot for repaving the street.

Mayor Rick Scholtes spoke in favor of moving forward with the project, but councilman Glenn Gaylord was against it unless they had input from the property owners themselves.

“We need to inform them before we make a decision,” Gaylord said. “And not do it without their input.”

Mayor Scholtes said the city would have to have another public hearing because of the change in plans and increase in assessments, so the property owners would be informed.

“We need to do it right, bite the bullet and get it done correctly now, before there is a bigger problem,” Scholtes said. “And we need to make a decision tonight in order to get notices of the public hearing within 10 days of the hearing. We can’t delay all the rest of the street project due to this issue.”

Councilman Russ Erichsrud said he felt this could become a bigger problem.

“We have already told these people what their assessments will be with just a mill and overlay,” Erichsrud said. “We could have some upset people when it increases a lot.”

The council also discussed a possible alternate route for the sewer line, through some property to the north of the affected homes, and not using the street.

“It could save some costs because the street would not have to be repaved,” Brown said. “It might be possible to go across the land where Blue Earth Light and Water already has an easement, but we would have to do an additional study to see if it actually is feasible.”

Another possible route suggested was from the north end of Bartel Drive, between two houses at the end of Nicollet Street to hook into a new main being put in Nicollet.

“That would not work,” Brown explained. “There is barely enough space there to place the water main, and would not have room for a sewer line too.”

In the end the council voted to proceed with plans and specs for doing the sewer line in the street, with a reconstruct of the street surface. The motion included having a public hearing on the project on Monday, March 1, to inform the residents of the plan.

The hearing would be part of the next City Council meeting.

The council’s motion also called for investigation of the possible alternate route for the sewer line on the north side of the two affected residences on Bartel Drive.