By ANDREA VARGO
Three public hearings were held Tuesday by the Howard Lake City Council, all relating to the improvements that will take place with the Hwy. 12 project, starting in 1998.
The park and ride lot was one item on the agenda. City Engineer Brad DeWolf explained the construction will be paid for by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT).
The city and the adjacent property owners have agreed to split the cost of right-of-way acquisition, he said.
The city has paid $50,000 for the Ken Durdahl building and it will cost $9,000 to demolish it.
Right-of-way from the railroad will cost a minimum of $4,500 for processing the paperwork.
After the city pays its portion, the six property owners adjoining the park and ride lot will each be assessed approximately $5,295, said DeWolf.
Comments by the property owners varied.
Pat Van Oss of Old Town Gallery asked DeWolf if more railroad right-of-way could be obtained to improve parking behind the city hall.
DeWolf said he would check it out and ask the Mn/DOT engineers if it was feasible to include that in the park and ride lot plans.
Jim Ittel, property owner on the south side of Hwy. 12, said extra parking behind the city hall could bring in more people to the city.
"The lake will entice people to Howard Lake," he said.
Other concerns, such as drainage and grades will be addressed as they come along, said DeWolf.
A sidewalk is planned between the parking spaces and the buildings.
DeWolf said, "We are trying to get the grades to the back doors wherever possible."
DeWolf went on to say there would be approximately 60 parking stalls north of existing businesses in the park and ride lot.
He assured business owners that their concerns for access and loading zones would be addressed by the Mn/DOT engineers in the final plan.
Vern Kleve, owner of a property on the south side of Hwy. 12, supported the whole parking improvement project for Howard Lake, saying, "To be assessed on a 50/50 basis is a gift. Parking spaces will be nothing but valuable to (all) the businesses."
The only real dissenter was Morris Bryan, owner of the bakery building.
He does not live in Howard Lake, and expressed to council members that he had not been notified of the meetings.
He was adamant that he would not participate in the park and ride lot project.
DeWolf presented the Phase I project and said it consists of extending sanitary sewer and watermain from 13th Ave. to the west city limits of Howard Lake.
The improvements include the construction of a sanitary sewer lift station, six inch diameter forcemain, eight inch diameter gravity sanitary sewer, and a 10 inch ductile iron watermain, he said.
There are two properties in the area, Innocast and the Lund property, that currently do not have sanitary sewer service.
The proposal states that the two properties be served with sanitary sewer and assessed for the improvements.
They each have to pay $700 for a sewer access fee, $1,000 to abandon their septic tanks, and $38.50 per foot for mainline assessment.
Cost of those improvements would total $10,604.50 for Innocast and $11,682.50 for the Lund property.
This part of the hearing had no comments from the public.
Here the proposed assessments consist of adjacent property owners being assessed 50 percent of the total project cost.
Cost for this project would be $37,765. This includes demolition of the old building now owned by the city and construction of a parking lot.
At $1,574 per stall, the following property owners have committed to paying the following amounts: William Strandquist $9,444, John Ringvold $6,296, and Vern Kleve $3,148.
Strandquist, owner of Red's Cafe said he will build a side entrance and maybe have some outdoor seating in the summer on the sidewalk.
Asked by one business owner, if that was legal, response came from several different people.
Mayor Mark Custer said it would be just like putting out the signboards the different businesses use.
Councilman Shelly Reddemann said most of the people using that sidewalk would be Strandquist's customers anyway, so why not let him try it.
DeWolf went on with his proposal, saying, "Although these property owners (Strandquist, Kleve, and Ringvold) have committed to paying the assessment, I believe that all retail business on the block should be assessed."
This portion of the hearing closed with few comments. One of those was a request by Kleve that diagonal parking be considered on the west side of the lot and parallel parking for loading and unloading on the east side.
DeWolf said the plan will be considered.