Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, April 10, 2000

HL to pay $1.272 million for Highway 12 improvements

By Andrea Vargo

The Highway 12 improvement project moved ahead when a cooperative agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) was approved by the Howard Lake City Council Tuesday.

During a workshop meeting just before the regular meeting, City Engineer Brad DeWolf presented the cooperative agreement between the city and Mn/DOT that outlined the costs for each item.

"I thought it was fair . . . very fair," DeWolf told the council.

The total cost to Howard Lake will be $1,272,000.

Sewer and water is paid for by the city and will run about $1.2 million.

On other items, federal dollars pay 80 percent and the rest is split between the state and city.

The city pays as low as 2 percent or as high as 11 percent of the total cost of those items.

Decorative lighting will cost the city $78,078, and the decorative sidewalk pavers will cost $45,203.22.

The $1,272,000 is slightly less than what was anticipated by DeWolf, when he made his projection several years ago.

In other notes on the project, stop signs will be removed on Seventh Street to provide better traffic flow on the detour route, DeWolf said.

Also, a preconstruction meeting will take place once the contractor has been selected, and details will be ironed out, he said.

Then, the intention is to schedule a public input meeting following the contractor's meeting each week after construction starts, DeWolf noted.

Industrial park site

A hearing date of Tuesday, May 2 (regular meeting night) was set for public comment on the proposed city investment in the industrial park.

Between now and then, representatives from the council intend to meet with the Howard Lake Industries group to discuss how the project could be phased.

DeWolf will bring those suggestions for project phases and their costs to the hearing, Smith said.

The development agreement would assess 100 percent of the costs back to the property.

But, DeWolf cautioned, that in the event the park sits idle for a few years, the city would be responsible to make the bond payment. That would be spread through the tax base for the city, and residents would have to pay for it, he said.

"How are the prospects for three or four businesses to be in there by next year?" asked Pat Van Oss.

Borglund told him there is no guarantee. There is interest, but the Highway 12 project will put some off, he said.

Heidi Pepper, Wright County Economic Development Partnership, said the the Highway 12 improvements will position Howard Lake better as far as development is concerned.

Pepper said that although there are 43,000 workers in Wright County, 44 percent of them commute to better wages or high tech types of jobs.

If the industrial park is developed, it must be done in accordance with the Greenacres law that requires manufacturers to pay 160 percent of the county median income.

This should be an attraction to the workforce in and around Howard Lake, she said.

At this point, inquiries are still coming from manufacturing businesses, Pepper said.

Borglund said the key to success is the kind of business the city can attract. Target businesses are those where skills are more marketable because of the wages offered.

The metro area is running out of land, and it is too expensive for businesses to pay for it. Growth is moving toward Wright County, Borglund said.

"We plan to take an aggressive attitude. We want to get our money back (quickly). We don't want it (the park) to sit empty," Smith stated.

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