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Funding will allow for Granite Falls levee improvements

The city of Granite Falls will start work on improving its main flood levee in the area behind Richter Field, above, and the City Shop/Fire Hall. If the river were to rise over the levee it would pour toward the residential area in the background and potentially as far as the water tower at the center of the horizon line in this photo. Nearly 300 homes would be affected. Tribune file photo by Tom Cherveny

GRANITE FALLS -- Granite Falls will be able to launch phase one of a two-phase project to improve its main flood levee.

City Council members on Monday called for bids on the first phase of the project with plans to award the work on Sept. 7.

The action came after council members learned that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be awarding the city an additional $1 million in flood mitigation monies, according to City Manager Bill Lavin.

The funds will allow the city to remain on track with its goal of upgrading the main levee, which protects nearly 300 homes and commercial buildings. The levee was built during emergency conditions in previous years.

The city is looking to both raise the levee to protect against the flood levels that are projected for a 100-year flood event, as well as to certify the structure as meeting current engineering requirements.

The first phase of the project will focus on raising a 350-foot portion of the earthen levee behind the city garage and shop and Richter baseball field, and adding a retaining wall atop it. If funding is available next year, the city hopes to improve and raise the remaining 4,850 feet of the levee by 1.5 to 3 feet.

The council members also asked for bids to construct a pumping station for the downtown area. The pumps would help protect low-lying areas of the downtown that are not immediately adjacent to the Minnesota River.

The city also learned that its commitment of $1 million in city funds and staff time toward flood mitigation work will be counted toward the local share required to leverage state and federal mitigation funds. Without that determination, the city would have needed to provide another $270,000 in local funds, Lavin said.

In other business, council members awarded the low bid of $74,425 to T & Kennedy Inc., Benson, for the demolition of the former City Hall and two adjacent downtown buildings. The low bid was well below the engineer's estimate of $236,879 for the project. Council members will be considering proposals for the restoration of the site at an upcoming meeting.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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