Bids ordered for Coon Rapids streets project

A contract to reconstruct five miles of residential streets in the city of Coon Rapids will be considered by the Coon Rapids City Council at its May 15 meeting.

Following a public/assessment hearing April 3, the council ordered the project, approved plans and specifications and ordered the advertisement for bids.

The assessments will be approved at the time the council awards the contract May 15.

One resident appeared at the public/assessment hearing not to object to the project itself, but rather the manner in which his property was to be assessed, while a letter was sent by a couple saying the reconstruction work was not needed on their street.

City Engineer Doug Vierzba has estimated the project cost to be $1.94 million, of which $777,963.09 is proposed to be assessed to benefiting properties, with the rest to be paid from various city funds.

The project comprises replacement of old street signs, replacement of existing curb and gutter in need to repair and paving a new surface.

Four areas in the south central part of Coon Rapids are targeted for residential street reconstruction this year.

• South Robinson Drive area located either side of Robinson and north of Egret Boulevard and south of Creek Meadow Drive.

• South Egret Boulevard area located south of Coon Rapids Boulevard near the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.

• Tralee Terrace area at Redwood Street and 98th Avenue.

• Springbrook Cove area located south of 85th Avenue and east of East River Road.

Streets in these areas range from 18 to 41 years old. “These streets are starting to crack excessively and will become a maintenance problem if they are not repaved soon,” Vierzba said.

Street cracking leads to pot holes with the freeze and thaw cycles of the winter and spring and a lot of these streets already have pot holes, he said.

The streets were chosen for reconstruction based on their condition rating, which was completed by the engineering department on all 181 miles of residential streets in the city in 2009 to allow for the planned program over the next five years, he said.

“The five-year plan may be modified as streets are reviewed for the following year’s program,” Vierzba said.

According to Vierzba, the project will affect 387 single-family lots, 38 duplex units, 37 townhome units, 130 condominium units and 10 apartment buildings.

Assessments proposed are $1,575 per single-family lot, $19.69 per front foot of average width for higher density residential including duplexes and $39.38 per average front foot for commercial and office.

Most assessments will be spread over a 10-year period at a 3.1 percent interest rate beginning in 2013, Vierzba said.

Properties, such as condominiums, with smaller assessment amounts, will be assessed over three years with an interest rate of 2 percent, he said.

“If paid as part of the property tax statement, the annual cost for a single-family home would be approximately $200 for the 10-year period,” Vierzba said.

Prior to the formal public/assessment hearing, staff hosted an informational meeting for benefiting property owners March 21 to answer questions about the project and proposed assessments. Eight residents attended and no objections were raised, Vierzba said.

All affected residents had been notified by letter of the project back in December 2011, he said.

Bob Brimmer, who lives in a condominium in the Tralee Terrace area, objected to the way assessments rates were calculated for cul de sac properties.

According to Vierzba, assessment rates for townhouses and condominiums per unit can vary depending on the average width or front footage of the parcel.

Footages are multiplied by the residential rate of $19.69 per foot to determine a total and then divided by the number of units in the development to determine the rate per unit for each association, except in the case of cul de sacs where the width of the parcel is used, Vierzba said.

In Brimmer’s view, the width of frontage on his cul de sac should be used, not the average width of the parcel.

But Vierzba said that cul de sac frontages are very small compared with the width of the parcel and using frontages on cul de sacs would result in an unfair assessment as opposed to calculating the width of the parcel.

The assessment for the 54-unit unit condo where Brimmer lives will mean an assessment of $280.76 per unit, which will be assessed over a three-year period at 2 percent interest, he said.

According to Brimmer, if the method that he proposed was used, his assessment would be $60.27.

Project construction is scheduled to take place from late May to early September, Vierzba said.

Work will take place in one neighborhood at a time, he said.

According to Mayor Tim Howe, cities have different methods of assessing street reconstruction projects and the Coon Rapids policy was workable. “We still have to prove benefit,” Howe said.

By contrast, there was a recent story in the media about Edina charging residents $20,000 per lot for a street reconstruction project, he said.

With 181 miles of residential streets in Coon Rapids, the city has been trying to do between five and seven miles a year and it will take several years to complete them all, said Councilmember Paul Johnson. “At $2 million each year, this is a significant cost,” he said.