By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN In efforts to enhance the sidewalk and trail system through Cokato, the Cokato City Council approved submitting plans and a pre-application to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s enhancement grant funding project at last Monday’s meeting.
The project would include adding sidewalk or paved trails on Third Street from Prairie Avenue to Trailstone Park, and on US Highway 12 to just east of Cokato Motor Sales, then following Sucker Creek to Seventh Street, just east of Eshton Court.
The pre-application will be submitted based on a cost estimate for the project prepared by city engineer Eric Lembke of Stantec (formerly Bonestroo).
The total estimated cost of the project is $544,000, with the city expected to match $82,800. A total of $130,000 is expected in local donations or in-kind services, and $331,200 is to be funded by the grant.
“Can we afford a match of $82,000?” asked Council Member Butch Amundsen. “Where would the money come from if we submit this?”
Because the cost estimate is from last year, the costs would more than likely be even greater, said City Administrator Don Levens.
“That is a good question do we even want to apply?” Levens asked.
Since the pre-application is due Friday, Nov. 18, it is not feasible to delay approving the application to figure out today’s actual cost estimates, Levens said.
He noted that the pre-application could be submitted now, and, if it was approved, the council could decide if it wanted to move forward with the project.
“We can even just decide to do one part of the project if we make it to part B (the final application),” said Council Member Carl Harju.
Amundsen noted that if more important things come up, it may not be pertinent to spend money on a trail at this time.
Some discussion took place about scaling back the project, only applying to do a portion of it this year.
“Will there be regrets with scaling back? It’s a hard decision,” Levens said.
The council decided to submit the pre-application for the full project.
If it makes it to the final application, it can decide to scale back, or even completely withdraw the application, if needed.
Paying for water at the community gardens
The council decided to table a waiver for water usage expenses for the community garden on North Johnson Avenue until its next meeting, Monday, Dec. 6.
The total water expense for 2011 totalled $114.
In the past, someone has always paid the bill, noted Mayor Gordy Erickson.
“The majority of the food raised in the community garden is donated to the food shelf or given away,” Levens said.
Bakke pointed out that the water usage expense for the food shelf is waived.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved the ice skating rink attendants and maintenance staff for the 2011-12 season.
• passed a resolution certifying delinquent utility and collection accounts for the city.
• approved a new code of conduct and ethics policy for elected and appointed officials.
• approved a grant request for replacement of the front entry doors at Cokato City Hall.
• approved a bid in the amount of $67,071 from LaTour Construction for street and utility improvements.
• approved exterior lighting improvements at the public works garage at a cost of approximately $2,875.