Weather Forecast


Legal limitations figure into Willmar decision to drop all street overlays this year

WILLMAR — Legal limitations figured into the Willmar City Council’s decision this week to eliminate overlay work on five city streets.

During an improvement hearing two months ago, the council ordered plans and specifications and requested construction bids for the five overlays.

The council ordered four of the overlays — Seventh Street Southeast, 10th Street Southwest, 23rd Street Southwest and 25th Street Southeast — to be bid as one project.

On the fifth street, the council ordered the overlay on Ninth Street Southwest to be bid as an alternate, meaning the council could decide later whether or not to proceed with the work.

Ninth Street Southwest was bid as an alternate after residents said during the April 7 improvement hearing that the street’s condition did not warrant an overlay.

Ninth Street Southwest residents repeated their request at the June 16 assessment hearing when the council approved assessments to help pay for street work. Ninth Street residents were joined by 10th Street Southwest residents who also believed the condition of their street did not warrant an overlay.

While some council members were sympathetic to dropping Ninth and 10th Streets, City Attorney Robert Scott offered guidance.

He said the council could eliminate Ninth Street Southwest because it was bid as an alternate.

However, Scott said the council could not drop 10th Street Southwest by itself because it was bid as part of a package that included the other three streets.

The way the specifications were drafted for this project, Scott said, the council did not itemize 10th Street Southwest separately in the bids and is unable to administer a fair bidding process.

“You couldn’t assume that the low bidder on the project would have been the low bidder if 10th Street weren’t included,’’ Scott said. “There does not seem to be a way based on the bidding documents to just pull 10th Street. You’d have to rebid the overlay projects.’’

City Public Works Director Sean Christensen said there was not time to go through the bidding process again.

Councilman Ron Christianson requested clarification. Since Ninth Street was bid separately, he asked, pulling it would not affect the other overlays. Scott said Christianson was correct.

Since 10th Street was bid with the others, Christianson asked, the council would have to rebid the overlays if 10th Street were pulled. Scott again said Christianson was correct.

What followed was a series of motions that eventually led to the council dropping all overlays.

Councilman Rick Fagerlie offered a motion to adopt the assessment roll but pull Ninth Street Southwest because citizens had requested that action at the improvement hearing and the others did not.

The motion was defeated with Fagerlie, Steve Ahmann and Audrey Nelsen in favor, and Christianson, Denis Anderson, Tim Johnson, Jim Dokken and Bruce DeBlieck opposed.

Anderson offered a motion to adopt the assessment roll as presented, including all the overlays. But the motion died for lack of a second.

Fagerlie then offered a motion to forget about the overlays and adopt the assessment roll for the reconstruction and new construction projects.

The motion was approved 5-3 with Fagerlie, Christianson, Ahmann, Johnson and Dokken in favor and Nelsen, DeBlieck and Anderson opposed.

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