With resident feedback, the Backus City Council on Monday, July 1, agreed to request a preliminary study from the city engineer, at an estimated cost of $2,500, to determine the scope and cost of paving Point Road.

Engineer Jeff Ledin told the council that many items have to be considered in the project that could increase cost or determine the city's plans going forward. Among those considerations are:

  • Whether the city intends to do sewer or water projects along Point Road, including extension of mains, digging lines down below the frost line or installation of services.
  • The scope of the city's current right of way. The county has indicated that the city has right of way extending to a fire hydrant along the road, but a search of deeds beyond the hydrant would be needed to determine if there is additional right of way.
  • Whether there needs to be a turn-around for larger vehicles at the end of the road.
  • How the city and its residents would pay for the project.

There are 18 property owners on Point Road. Several residents attended the meeting and others had previously called or written to the council to share their opinions on the project.

Initially, it appeared that the residents on Point Road overwhelmingly opposed the project with three letters and one phone call in opposition. Only one phone call was received in support. However, four additional Point Road residents attending the meeting spoke in favor of the project and one spoke in opposition, making the count even.

One resident who wrote and another in attendance opposed the project because they believe a paved road would lead to faster speeds on Point Road. Point Road is a very narrow road and drivers already treat it like a 30 mph city street. Others opposed based on cost alone.

Supporters of the project did not say why they favored it, but Point Road has had some potholes and dust issues in the past.

At this stage the council is only trying to determine whether citizens want the city to pay to have an estimate of the scope and cost of the project. There is no plan to move forward with actually paving the street yet.

As a result of the stalemate and previous support for the project by an additional household on Point Road, the council decided to have the city engineer prepare the memorandum so residents can have an idea how much work needs to be done and how much it would cost. From that point the city can decide with public input whether to go forward with improvements.

In other business July 1, the council:

  • Agreed to pay the city's share in a driveway replacement project. The city excavated a section of driveway to access a burst water line some time ago. Maintenance normally would repair the driveway, but that project was delayed and now the homeowner plans to repave the driveway. Because the city has traditionally paid to patch driveways damaged by work on city utility lines, the council agreed to pay for a portion of the driveway equal only to the amount the city would have repaired under existing policy - that is, the section dug up to repair the water line.
  • Agreed to transfer its $50,000 revolving loan to Cass County Economic Development Corporation to serve as a local development organization. The loan currently has restrictions on how it can be lent; however, under control of an LDO, the loan becomes available to a larger geographical area. EDC Director Mike Paulus said he understood it to be available only to Backus and townships touching Backus city limits.
  • Approved the lowest bid to repair burst water lines in the municipal airport arrivals building. The council already received a $1,625 bid, but decided to seek additional bids before approval.
  • Approved the annual renewal of a liquor and tobacco license for Willards Saloon and Eatery.
  • Waived a permit fee for construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramp. A permit must still be acquired for the project, but the council felt it was unreasonable to charge a fee.
  • Signed a joint powers agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regarding the water access at Rocky Dock. With the agreement signed, the DNR can move forward with repairs to the boat access ramp on the lake.