Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Jan. 22, 2001

Winsted residents object to Co. Rd. 1 assessments

By Lynda Jensen

About 25 residents attended an initial public hearing for assessments on the next McLeod County Road 1 project at the Winsted City Council meeting Tuesday.

McLeod County plans to resurface the road from Main Avenue to the county line just north of Winsted.

Curb and gutter will be placed on the entire length of the east side of the road.

However, on the west side, curb and gutter will be installed only from Main Ave. to the intersection with Westgate Drive.

Although the cost of resurfacing will be paid by the county, the curb and gutter will be assessed 100 percent to the property owners along the route, City Administrator Matt Podhradsky said.

This amounts to about $14.41 per linear foot, although this figure may be high if the project is bid for less, Podhradsky said. The bidding will be let in March.

Construction is expected to take place during the spring and summer months.

Residents strongly objected to what they perceived as an unnecessary project that seemed to happen without warning.

The project started more than a year ago when the county started work south on Mcleod County Road 1 to the industrial park, Podhradsky said.

"I want it the way it is," Jeff Sterner of JMS Custom Services, told the Journal after the meeting.

At JMS, blacktop meets blacktop along that road, and this enables semi trucks to access his business anywhere, Sterner said.

If a curb and gutter were put in, this would bottleneck his access. Sterner uses 120 feet of the 248 feet on the edge of his property.

"For that (installing the curb), I'm supposed to shell out $1,600, $1,700 or $1,800?" he asked.

Sterner has operated at that location for 21 years and never experienced drainage problems, he said.

Podhradsky noted that in the past the county has looked at access situations like that at JMS as safety issues.

Storm water drainage in that area is an issue that may become a problem down the road, Podhradsky said.

One resident who could not make the meeting called him beforehand to express his problems with the drainage there, Podhradsky said.

"It isn't necessary. If they're not going to do it all, don't start," said resident Gordy Kubasch after the meeting.

Kubasch is a resident on the west side of that strip. Kubasch objected to the fact that the curb and gutter on the western edge will be installed only part of the way.

This will require some residents on the east side to pay for a curb in front of their houses, while their neighbor across the street will have no curb installed.

Council members fielded questions as best they could without the contracted engineer, Tim Arvidon, who failed to show up at the public hearing. Arvidon is from an engineering firm in the Twin Cities.

Arvidon arrived an hour later when the regular meeting had begun, after the residents dispersed for the public meeting.

The city can't control when the county decides to do this," commented Fran Eggert, city attorney.

In fact, Podhradsky pointed out that when road construction is done in the city, most residents end up paying for both the curb and gutter as well as a percentage of the road surfacing, in cases when the pavement already exists.

The residents along the northern portion of County Road 1 will be paying only for curb and gutter, he said.

Property owners on the southern end of County Road 1 did not have to pay for their curb and gutter work, since the city received a federal grant for those costs. This may have caused hard feelings with other residents, Podhradsky said.

That section of road, south of Main Avenue, just happened to fit within federal guidelines for a grant. "I don't know why," Podhradsky said.

Regardless, every other resident in town must pay assessments according to city ordinance, Podhradsky said.

The city ordinance also dictates that when work such as this is being done, a curb and gutter must be installed while the road is being improved, Podhradsky said

"What right have we not to do it that way, when everyone else had to do it?" Mayor Don Guggemos asked.

This section of road is about the only area left without curb and gutter in the city, Podhradsky said.

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