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Willmar council OKs street, other improvements

WILLMAR -- The entire Willmar City Council took its first look Tuesday at the proposed list of street and other public works improvements for 2019. The Public Works/Public Safety Committee was given a brief overview of the plan at its meeting Feb. 6.

A Willmar Public Works crew repairs 13th Street Southwest, raking and shoveling asphalt in a cut.
Tribune file photo The Willmar City Council approved a list of street and other improvements for 2019. While budget questions still have to be answered, several streets will either be reconstructed or have overlays this year.
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune

WILLMAR - The entire Willmar City Council took its first look Tuesday at the proposed list of street and other public works improvements for 2019. The Public Works/Public Safety Committee was given a brief overview of the plan at its meeting Feb. 6.

Public Works Director Sean Christensen gave the annual, state-mandated improvement report during Tuesday's meeting of the full council.

"The report is only dealing with projects that are to be assessed," Christensen said.

The council approved the report after the presentation and discussion, and set a public hearing on the assessed improvements for 7:01 p.m. March 18 during the regular council meeting.

The projects on the list which will be partially assessed to benefiting property owners are the reconstruction of Fifth Street Southwest from 19th Avenue to the end of the cul-du-sac; 13th Street Southeast from the service road to the south end; 14th Street Southeast from the service road to the south end; 15th Street Southeast from Becker Avenue to the south end; and 16th Street Southeast from Becker Avenue to the south end. These projects total 1.02 miles of new street.

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Also included in the assessed projects are the overlay of 15th Street Southwest from Trott Avenue to 19th Avenue; Civic Center Drive Northeast from U.S. Highway 71 to Kandiyohi County Road 9; and 19th Avenue Southwest from First Street to County Road 5. Just over four miles of street will be overlaid.

Also on the improvement plan, but not to be assessed to property owners, are the Cambridge housing development drainage improvements; path construction along Lakeland Drive and U.S. Highway 12; overlay of the path around Swansson Field; and a new traffic signal at County Road 5 and Willmar Avenue Southwest.

The estimated total for all the improvements being proposed for 2019 is $6,252,865. The total cost for assessed projects is an estimated $4.7 million. About $1.7 million of that will come from property assessments, according to the preliminary improvement budget. An assessment hearing is currently scheduled for June 17.

"Assessments are only for street items. Utilities are not assessed," Christensen said.

The projects were chosen based on several qualifications, including street condition, age, utilities needs and public feedback.

"A lot of these are on here because someone has stopped in and said 'please do my street,'" Christensen said.

He said members of the public can contact Public Works if they have concerns about their street or want to know more about how their street's condition is rated.

"They can probably get more information than they want on their street. Somebody within that office will explain what each of those numbers mean," Christensen said.

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While all the proposed projects are needed and construction is feasible, the money to pay for them still needs to be found.

"I am not stating financial feasibility, I am just stating engineering and design and construction feasibility," Christensen said.

Additional funding for these improvements will come from Willmar Municipal Utilities, federal and state aid funds. However, the city has an obligation of over $3 million for all these projects in the improvement plan and does not have cash in the budget to pay for it all. Finance Director Steve Okins said the Finance Committee of the council will be considering the finances of these projects at a meeting Thursday.

Christensen recommended the council make its decision on which projects will be moving forward before the public improvement hearing on March 18.

The schedule of events Christensen shared at the meeting shows construction beginning on these projects in July 2019, with substantial completion by October. Total completion is scheduled to take place in June 2020.

"July to October is plenty of time," Christensen said.

Related Topics: WILLMAR CITY COUNCIL
Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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