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The Granite Falls Historical Society has the city's approval to apply for funding to remodel and repair the Great Northern Railroad depot. The local historical group has an agreement with the owner of the depot, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The railroad will transfer ownership of the depot to the Historical Society but will require that it be moved from this west side location near the rail line within six months. Tribune photo by Susan Lunneborg

Granite Falls to pursue depot repair funds

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News Willmar,Minnesota 56201 http://www.wctrib.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/1/1130/20090221022009depot1.jpg?itok=ISsNG9Wt
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Granite Falls to pursue depot repair funds
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

GRANITE FALLS -- City Council members gave the Granite Falls Historical Society the go-ahead to apply for funding to remodel and repair the Great Northern Railroad depot, but they expressed misgivings about the proposed location for it.

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The Granite Falls City Council approved action at its meeting Tuesday to allow the local Historical Society to apply for grant funding through the federal recreation trails program. However, council members asked that the application not include a specific site for the depot, said City Manager Bill Lavin.

Some of the council members expressed concerns about its proposed location in Sorlien Park alongside the Minnesota River near the municipal dam, he said. Their concerns focus on how the depot would block the view of the river in that area.

The local historical group has an agreement with the owner of the depot, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The railroad will transfer ownership of the depot to the Historical Society but will require that it be moved from its west side location near the rail line within six months.

The depot is no longer in use, and the Historical Society previously refurbished its exterior. It had planned to move the depot for use as the trail head for a proposed recreation trail and preserve it as a historic site.

In other business, council members discussed the possibility of moving forward with upgrading the city's main flood levee in two phases. Lavin and Mayor David Smiglewski recently met with Kent Lokkesmoe, director of division of waters, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, to discuss flood mitigation funds.

A recent study of the levee completed by Berryman and Associates Engineering, Montevideo, estimated that it will cost $2.7 million to upgrade the levee and obtain its certification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for protection against a 1 percent flood event, or better known as a 100-year flood event.

The levee was originally constructed under emergency conditions in 1952 and upgraded in subsequent years, also during emergency conditions. Dangerous, around-the-clock efforts to raise the levee during the flood of 1997 succeeded in keeping it from being overtopped, but the waters came within an inch or two of spilling over the levee and flooding 200 or more homes and businesses.

The levee is not certified by the Corps of Engineers but the Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated it as a provisionally accredited levee.

The levee is currently 1 foot and in some places 3 feet higher than the projected water levels of a 1 percent or 100-year flood event. Modern standards require that the levee be raised by a minimum of 3 more feet, according to the engineer's report. That would provide freeboard protection for floodwaters.

Along with raising the levee, the proposed work would also strengthen it and add a pumping station.

The report by engineer David Berryman outlines how the improvements could be carried out in two phases. Council members indicated they favored a two-phase approach. That would allow the project to get under way even if the state is unable to earmark the full funding for it at this time.

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