Hearing coming on Ramsey capital improvement plan

The Ramsey City Council is reviewing its capital improvement plan for the next five years.

Reconstructing a segment of Garnet Street (shown) and 168th Avenue in the Now and Then Estates neighborhood is included in Ramsey’s capital improvement plan, but like any project when it moves forward depends on available funding and council approval.File photo by Eric Hagen
Reconstructing a segment of Garnet Street (shown) and 168th Avenue in the Now and Then Estates neighborhood is included in Ramsey’s capital improvement plan, but like any project when it moves forward depends on available funding and council approval.File photo by Eric Hagen

City Manager Kurt Ulrich said the council could be holding a public hearing at its Jan. 28 meeting, but that date would officially be set at the Tuesday, Jan. 14 meeting. The council would subsequently vote on whether to approve the plan.

Ulrich said the capital improvement plan is just a projection of major capital expenditures that could come over the next five years, but “the further out it goes, the less certain that projects would be completed. Some items planned we don’t have a funding source for yet.”

“Just because it’s in that book doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” said Public Works Superintendent Grant Riemer.

Councilmember Jill Johns has only been an elected official for a little over a little over five months, but she was previously on the Parks and Recreation Commission for 16 years and thus is familiar with projects such as the Trott Brook Trail Corridor. Johns said this would essentially be Ramsey’s version of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway that links a series of parks in Minneapolis.

However, the project is pushed to the end of this most recent 2014-2018 plan and it could cost over $4 million to construct a segment from the border with Elk River near Jarvis Street and six miles east along Trott Brook to Rum River Central Park. The project could be a candidate for state Legacy Amendment funding, according to city staff.

“It will be cool when it happens, but it will be a process,” Johns said.

Trail connections that could come in 2014 are Alpine Park to Sweetbay Ridge, along Armstrong Boulevard from 167th Lane to Alpine Drive and then to Lake Itasca, and along Highway 47 from Trott Brook Cemetery to the Elmcrest Park trail.

The council has already approved construction of a new park building at Elmcrest Park next year. It is scheduled to vote Jan. 14 on a joint powers agreement with Anoka County for a new traffic signal and other modifications at the County Road 5 (Nowthen Boulevard) and Alpine Drive intersection. Both these projects are included in the capital improvement plan.

The council has yet to decide whether to charge $8 per month through each electric and natural gas bill for streets maintenance projects. For planning purposes revenue from this potential franchise fee is included in the budget as are $1 million in expenditures in 2014 and $2.2 million annually for street reconstruction projects, but this would need to be modified if franchise fees are not approved.

A Riverdale Drive extension from Traprock Street to Armstrong Boulevard is planned to happen in 2014. At the same time, a water main looping project will happen in this area to provide dependable water pressure and supply to more newly developed areas of Ramsey south of Highway 10.

Riemer said the benefit of capital improvement plans is they help cities plan better and coordinate projects to save money in the long-term. The city would not want to extend Riverdale Drive only to tear it up a few years later for the water main looping project.

There are a few sizable city facility projects that could take place within the next five years including constructing a new public works building, a water treatment plant and relocating Fire Station No. 2.

The city public works department is currently located at 14100 Jasper St. NE, but it also has a second site just across Jasper Street that would be the home of a newer and larger public works campus.

Riemer said the city’s current public works site is 9.1 acres. Once the community is totally built out, the department would need up to 25 acres. The site it purchased from Bury and Carlson has been used by the city for storing black dirt, road sealcoating material, rock and sand, according to Riemer.

The land, which is just north of Highway 10, was purchased for $3 million, according to the capital improvement plan. Constructing the building could cost $8 million, but Riemer said the city would do a needs study before proceeding with any project.

The city is eyeing a site south of Fire Station No. 1 on Armstrong Boulevard for a new water treatment plant. It is tentatively budgeting for 2015 to purchase the property and construction in 2017 and 2018. Construction alone could cost $18.4 million.

Riemer said Ramsey currently treats water with fluoride, chloride and polyphosphate. A new water treatment plant would use a filtration system instead. What type of filtration is needed would hinge on where the water comes from.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently notified the city of Ramsey that it may no longer be permitted to get its water supply from the groundwater aquifers, according to Riemer, who emphasized that the dwindling groundwater supply due to development is a Twin Cities metrowide concern and not just a Ramsey issue. Surface water sources such as the Mississippi River may be utilized, but more study is needed.

Separate from this would be construction of a 1.5 million-gallon underground water storage reservoir on to the water treatment site that could cost $2 million.

Fire Station No. 2 is presently located on the former municipal center site south and east of the County Road 5 and Alpine Drive intersection. The city is exploring redevelopment opportunities on this property whether it be a data center or more housing, so it is looking at rebuilding this fire station just east of former municipal building on the southeast corner of Alpine Drive and Helium Street. This project is tentatively scheduled for 2015 and could cost around $2.5 million once including land, construction and furnishing costs.

The city would look at issuing bonds for these larger projects, according to the capital improvement plan.

Beyond large building, roads, parks and trails projects, the plan does address equipment and vehicle replacement.

A few examples of vehicles that could be replaced within the next five years include a couple of snow plow trucks and a water/boom truck for the public works department, a rescue truck and grass truck for the fire department and three new squads every year for the police department.

Riemer said rather than just looking at age of vehicles, the city will be using a point system that considers hours, miles and percentage of original costs made in repairs.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]