Andover holds hearing on road project

The Andover City Council Feb. 5 asked city staff to finalize plans and seek bids for the reconstruction of streets within the Stenquist Addition neighborhood.

The reconstruction project will include a portion of 159th Avenue that runs through the neighborhood, which is west of Seventh Avenue.

The council unanimously approved the staff recommendation. Councilmember Julie Trude was absent.

According to City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz, these roads were originally paved in 1979 and there is extensive alligator cracking that shows the road is in rough shape and needs reconstruction.

The preliminary estimate for the whole project is $1,292,400. The city would pay approximately 75 percent of the costs and the 66 parcel owners would pay $314,820, according to Berkowitz.

The schedule Berkowitz shared included awarding the bid in June, construction in late June through late August and the assessment hearing in October.

The estimated assessment per lot is $4,770. Residents could pay it off within 30 days of the assessment hearing this fall, spread the payment out over 10 years and pay off the remaining principal before the 10-year period is up.

The cost of replacing the 30-inch culvert under 159th Avenue will come out of the city’s stormwater utility fund. According to Berkowitz, the city would need to get approval from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on this because it is within a DNR protected wetland. It could take two months to get someone from the DNR out to the site just to review the proposal and the DNR would then have another 45 days to respond.

If the city does not receive DNR approval in time, Berkowitz said the portion of 159th Avenue from Seventh Avenue to Makah Street where the culvert is would have to be delayed until next year.

This portion of 159th Avenue as well as 160th Lane have bituminous curb and will get concrete curb instead because it is much more durable over the long term, Berkowitz said. This is a normal city policy.

Areas that currently have ditches will keep this type of stormwater drainage system.

Corey Moyer, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1995, questioned why this road project could not be delayed. He said there have been a number of foreclosures in the neighborhood and he was concerned about the effect this assessment would have on property owners.

“If I had the $4,770 that you guys want me to pay you for the road, I would fix the siding on my house and I would replace the hail damaged garage doors,” Moyer said. “It’s a substantial amount of money and people are not just rolling in all kinds of raises.”

Moyer and Janet Rudlong were the only two residents who spoke at the Feb. 5 public hearing. The city mailed out notices of this meeting to all 66 parcel owners as required by state law. There were residents from 13 properties at a Dec. 11, 2012 neighborhood meeting, including Rudlong.

Moyer and Rudlong wanted to city to poll all 66 parcel owners to see if they wanted the project done.

“I think it’s fair play to put it to a vote of the 66 residents whether they want to move forward,” Rudlong said. She has lived in the neighborhood since 1974 before the road was paved in 1979 and said they had voted on that at the time.

Berkowitz said every city street is inspected once every three years to see if reconstruction is warranted. If the rating is low enough, it is put in a five-year capital improvement plan that the city approves every year. Projects listed within the first two years of a CIP have a great probability of happening while projects further down the line could be bumped back.

Councilmember Sheri Bukkila said by delaying the project, the material costs could rise, which affects all Andover taxpayers because the city is paying about three-quarters of the project costs. The best strategy is to keep up with the projects so the city does not have to sell bonds and pay interest for numerous projects at once.

She said if each neighborhood was allowed to vote on its road project, the city would likely not get a lot done because many residents would ask to delay the project.

Councilmember Mike Knight said homes and vehicles are maintained to last longer and the same thing needs to happen to roads.

“It’s cheaper in the long run to maintain them than it is to fix them after they all go into potholes,” Knight said.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]