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Jenkins: Council tables Cottage Avenue work, seeks plan for other roads

Public comment weighs heavily on decision regarding improvements to three proposed roads

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Jenkins city hall. Echo Journal file photo
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JENKINS — The Jenkins City Council credited ample negative response at their Monday, Dec. 12, public hearing when they tabled a decision on whether to move forward with planning to restore and reshape Cottage Avenue.

The council intended to dedicate 30 minutes each to information and public comments on the proposed Cottage Avenue road repair and a second proposed project to pave Shanty Court and Brown Boulevard.

Those at the Cottage Avenue hearing provided such a lively response that the hearing concluded at 6:55 p.m., only five minutes before the regularly scheduled council meeting.

Those present had objections relating to cost in general — an estimated $10,000-$12,000 runoff retention pond and the city's 50% assessment policy, which sets a standard for road construction projects to be paid half through assessment to adjacent properties and half paid by the city using the existing capital improvement budget.

Until recently, the city's policy was to charge 80% to residents.

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Unlike Brown and Shanty, Cottage Avenue is already paved, but city engineer David Reese, of Widseth engineering firm, recommended the road be ground down and resurfaced due to damage from delayed maintenance over 20 years, as well as poor design leading to water retention in front of city hall.

Reese and Mayor Jon Lubke said such water retention can reduce the lifespan of a road and create lasting issues. New shaping, drainage and a retention pond are included in the plan to resolve those issues.

Several residents suggested the retention pond at least should be eliminated from the plan. One said the water could just be drained into a nearby slough. Another said the retention pond would be a waste of money if the city doesn't plan to significantly increase its impervious surface.

Reese said he appreciated the feedback on that specifically as it provides planners with additional options, though they are required to abide by water regulations with runoff.

The estimate for Cottage Avenue work is $180,139 with the city and residents each assuming $61,878. Eight adjacent properties would pay $7,735 over the course of 10 years at an estimated 5% interest rate.

Estimated payments are $1,002 per year. An actual price would not be known unless the city sends the project out for bids, likely in February.

The council received a much different response from the four residents and one call-in they received for Shanty Court and Brown Boulevard.

One man, asking questions for his father, who owns property along the project, wanted to know where the city will get its 50% share of the project, asking if the council would then increase the tax levy to pay for its project bonds.

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Council members Charles Hoffman and Andrew Rudlang explained that bond payments have been calculated based on what the council already collects in taxes for capital improvements, meaning payments are built into the city's current tax rate.

Unlike Cottage, Shanty and Brown are only in prebituminous condition as of 2015, meaning they are gravel, but all drainage ditches, culverts and shaping necessary for a paved road.

The council spent approximately 45 additional minutes answering questions about Shanty Court and Brown Boulevard.

Rudlang told those gathered for the discussion that unlike the previous group, he couldn't tell for sure if they were for or against the project and asked them to indicate their opinions.

All four residents said they would support the project. City Clerk Krista Okerman said one other resident along the route who had called with questions also supported the project.

Shanty and Brown are estimated to cost $126,226, with $63,113 paid by both the city and residents along the route. There are 11 properties to be assessed at a cost of $5,738, or $743 paid per year for 10 years.

The council is also aiming for a 5% interest rate on the bond for Shanty and Brown, though the actual rate would be determined after bids are received.

The council agreed to direct Reese to create plans for Shanty Court and Brown Boulevard.

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In other business Monday, the council:

  • Agreed to use $2,500 each from the American Rescue Plan fund and the city's charitable gambling fund to donate half to Lakes Area Food Shelf and half to the Pine River Food Shelf.
  • Approved a final levy at $335,000, a 3.2% increase over this year’s levy.
  • Thanked Lubke for his 15 years serving on the council. He will join the Crow Wing County Board in January.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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