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City street projects include Roosevelt School road

Water from a nearby holding pond on Tuesday floods 15th Avenue Southwest in Willmar. The Willmar School District wants a 1,170-foot road constructed from Roosevelt Elementary School to 15th Avenue Southwest. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- The city's list of proposed 2010 street improvements includes a project requested by the Willmar School District to build a 1,170-foot road from Roosevelt Elementary School to 15th Avenue Southwest. The road will be used by school buses and will improve school safety and parking, said City Public Works Director Mel Odens.

Buses now use the parking lot in front of Roosevelt on 19th Avenue Southwest. In the future, buses will enter the lot behind Roosevelt from 15th Avenue Southwest. Odens said the school district will require buses to drive west to 22nd Street rather than drive east through a residential area.

But buses will sometimes have to drive east on 15th because the avenue is occasionally blocked -- like it is now -- by overflow from the storm water holding pond between 15th and Taunton Stadium.

Willmar resident Laura Carlson told the City Council on Monday night that the flooding situation was a concern for parents like her who have students at Roosevelt. She spoke during a public hearing the council held to consider the proposed improvements.

Odens said the pond's high water mark is two feet lower than the Roosevelt road. He said the city is not excited about the flooding. He said a county tile line, which drains the pond, is blocked by ice. The tile passes the Land O' Lakes feed mill and Bernick's and empties into County Ditch 46 at the southwest corner of the city.

The situation will depend on when warmer weather thaws the tile line, he said. The pond filled from melting snow and rain.

"I've seen a few other areas of town open up overnight, so we hope it opens up as well,'' Odens said.

He said the school district has been generous in requiring buses to go west on 15th when the road is open. But when 15th is flooded, buses may have to go east for a few days until it reopens, he said.

The cost of the project will be paid by the school district.

Also during the hour-long hearing, the council received a comment about the lack of a second access road during the past 30 years in the Valley Brook neighborhood where three streets will be reconstructed. The council directed city staff to study options for providing a second access.

The council also discussed the proposed extension of Pleasant View Drive easterly from 12th Street to 15th Street. Odens said the project was requested by Youth For Christ, which owns land on one side of the street; the city owns land on the other side.

Odens and council member Doug Reese said the extension would provide additional access from Pleasant View Addition to Lakeland Drive. Also, it would allow Youth For Christ to be able to sell its residential lots.

Council member Rick Fagerlie questioned the need for the extension, which he said would enable patrons of a Lakeland Drive bar to evade the police. Fagerlie favored placing a cul-de-sac and establishing a trail for residents to walk to Lakeland Drive businesses.

City Administrator Michael Schmit suggested extending Pleasant View Drive to 13th to accommodate the development and evaluate the need for the connection to Lakeland Drive.

Council member Bruce DeBlieck asked why the council would reduce Pleasant View Addition access when the Valley Brook neighborhood does not have enough access.

"How are these people going to get out of there?'' he asked. "They've got the same problem as at Valley Brook. You're just creating the problem in another part of town.''

Fagerlie said Pleasant View has five entrances and exits.

Despite voicing a few differences of opinion, council members voted 7-0 to order the improvements and prepare plans and specifications. State law requires seven affirmative votes to order the improvement, Schmit reminded the council.

Those voting in favor were DeBlieck, Fagerlie, Reese, Steve Ahmann, Ron Christianson, Tim Johnson and Denis Anderson. Jim Dokken was absent.

The council was to have received a report about the city's wind turbine project from Bruce Gomm, general manager of the Willmar Municipal Utilities, but Gomm did not attend the meeting.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150