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Osakis prepares for 2017 downtown improvement project

With the 2016 Osakis downtown improvement project nearing completion, planning is well under way for the next phase, the 2017 downtown project. The City Council, at its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 6, approved plans and specifications for this year's project, and ordered advertisement for bids on the project.

The 2017 improvements will include:

• Main St. W. from Sixth Ave. N to Second Ave. W.;

• First Ave. W. from Nokomis St. to Main St.;

• First Ave. E. from Nokomis St. to Lake St.;

• Central Ave. from Lake St. to the boat landing; and

• Mill and overlay on Second Ave. W., Third Ave. W. and Fourth Ave. W.

The listed streets will be reconstructed and underground utilities installed.

Advertising for bids will be Feb. 15, 22 and March 1, and contracts will be awarded in early April.

Sheila Krohse, engineer with Bolton and Menk Inc., told the council construction would begin as soon as the road restrictions go off this spring.

Jason Murray of Bolton and Menk addressed the subject of financing for the 2017 project. Murray noted that the city will receive significant funds from Douglas County and loans from Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA). About $150,000 will be the city's bond portion, and there will be some assessments.

Murray said once the bids on the project have come in, another look will be taken at the financial impact of the 2017 project, including assessments to property owners.

BOAT LANDING

Krohse informed the City Council that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved a layout for the downtown boat landing on Lake Osakis. The plan will be changing traffic flow from what it is presently. The flow will be one way, going clockwise. Removal of the buildings at the site will spread out the parking lot footprint, which will include angled parking, and an aquatic invasive species (AIS) washout area for boats. Once the boats are flushed out, the traffic flow will exit out of the area to the south. There will be painted stop areas installed to help with the traffic flow, and to ensure that all boats are washed before leaving the landing area.

The skate park will not be touched.

The good news, Krohse said, is that she has applied for state financial aid from the Park Road Grant account, and the Osakis project is looking favorable to receive grant money up to $170,000. The DNR is reviewing the grant application now. Awarding of the grants will be in March or April.

Krohse also reported easements for the water and sewer lines are being attained. She noted that the sidewalk to be installed on the east side of Central Avenue is part of the city project.

BILLS APPROVED

The City Council approved payment to Bolton and Menk of $78,650 for December billing, and $26,512 for January billing.

2016 PROJECT

Krohse, along with Jeff Kalpin, discussed with the council the progress of the 2016 downtown project.

Kalpin's business, O-Town Tavern, sustained damage to the awning from the contractor. Damages to other downtown businesses as a result of the project are also reported. Krohse said she is withholding final payments for Granite Ledge and C&L until the damages to businesses have been taken care of.

If they are not covered by insurance, she will withhold funds to repair the damages from the contractors' final payments until this is addressed.

DOWNTOWN PROJECT GRANTS

The council received a letter from Emajean Zweig, special programs coordinator for Douglas County HRA, regarding the 2017 commercial and residential grants program. Information shows that work orders have been ordered for four commercial rehabilitation grants, with a fifth project already bid and waiting to close.

Total funding for the five projects already approved is $99,985, 10 percent of which is loan, along with $20,630 in owner funds.

Residential projects include one for $14,956, which is in the bidding stage of the process. Five projects in various stages of development are listed in the residential section.

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