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To improve – or just fix – HL’s Memorial Park
April 9, 2012

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, MN – Memorial Park, and whether to improve it or just fix some of the problems, was a much-discussed subject at a workshop following the regular city council meeting Tuesday.

When the city was looking at Memorial Park to design the placement of the remainder of the used playground equipment purchased one-and-one-half years ago, two issues came up, said City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp.

First, there is a collapsed sanitary sewer line under the parking lot that has to be fixed.

Second, there is an ongoing drainage problem in the park. During heavy rains, all the wood chips on the playground wash out.

There are several options to fix the problems, and even improve the park, but the options vary widely in cost.

One option would be to simply move the playground equipment and patch the sanitary sewer line.

The cost to move the playground equipment is about $5,000 to $6,000, according to Hinnenkamp.

Patching the sewer line could be done for less than $10,000, said Public Works Director Tom Goepfert.

Three additional options were presented to the council, which were designed by city engineer Barry Glienke of Bolton & Menk.

The first option would be to improve the sanitary sewer line at the park by connecting the manhole on 10th Avenue to a new manhole in the parking lot with sewer main.

New sanitary sewer services would connect to the existing facilities at the park, and the force main lift station would be rerouted to the new manhole.

This option would cost approximately $63,300 for construction, engineering, and administration, according to Glienke.

“By the time I was done with option one, there was only 10 percent of the parking lot left, so I went to a Cadillac plan,” Glienke said.

The “Cadillac” plan would improve the sanitary sewer issues, create additional parking spaces, and fix the drainage problem by adding a stormwater catch basin, and curb and gutter.

The southwest part of the parking lot would be increased, requiring some of the playground equipment and the park sign to be moved, and the removal of two trees, Glienke said.

The parking lot would be re-striped to allow better traffic flow, and increase by 17 parking stalls.

The cost of the “Cadillac” plan would be $145,500 for construction, engineering, and administration, according to Glienke.

The final option Glienke presented to the council would be to simply improve the sanitary and stormwater sewers at the park, without increasing the parking lot size.

The cost of the final option would be $98,400 for construction, engineering, and administration, according to Glienke.

The park commission was presented with the different options at its meeting March 27, and it really liked option two (the “Cadillac” plan), but they approved to the council to consider the $98,000 option, Hinnenkamp told the council.

During the discussion, it was noted that the difference of $40,000 between option three and the “Cadillac,” was a lot for only an additional 17 parking spaces.

“I don’t think it’s worth spending $40,000 for more parking, but we have to do the sanitary and storm sewers,” said Council Member Pete Zimmerman. “I’d rather see improvements to the bathrooms than to the parking lot.”

By going with the “Cadillac” option, the city would be eliminating green space, City Clerk Gene Gilbert noted.

“We have the other parking lot; fix that up. It’s a lot of money, I think, when eliminating green space,” Gilbert added.

Zimmerman agreed spending money on the other parking lot would improve the park, as well.

Improving the parking lot and the flow of traffic really comes down to a safety issue, said Mayor Rick Lammers, also noting that improvements would bring people to the park.

The functionality of the park would be improved with the “Cadillac” plan, said Council Member Tom Kutz, noting he would like to see all the improvements take place at one of the city’s nicer parks.

“We need to use the park for other, more social things – not just baseball,” Gilbert said.

Although Hinnenkamp had not come up with a specific plan of how to fund the Memorial Park improvements, she noted there are ways to fund them.

Because it is a park, could use park funds, but the project also includes sanitary and storm sewer improvements, so those funds could be tapped into, as well, she said.

There is $130,000 in both park funds, but $30,000 to $40,000 of that is already committed.

“Park funds are not rolling in – I don’t want to use them all,” Zimmerman said.

In the stormwater utility fund, there is $38,000, but that is used to pay bonds.

There is also $38,000 in the stormwater trunk fund, which could be used for a project like this, Hinnenkamp said.

In the “Cadillac” plan, there is about $20,000 worth of storm sewer work, Glienke noted.

The sanitary sewer fund looks healthy, Hinnenkamp noted, adding that the project could be split in thirds between the park, stormwater, and sanitary sewer funds.

“It feels like we would be spending everything from all three funds,” Zimmerman said.

Since the 2011 utility and improvement project is not complete yet, Glienke suggested tying the Memorial Park improvements into that project.

In that case, the engineering costs and some of the sanitary sewer work could be added to the Public Facilities Authorities bonds, Glienke added.

“But are we happy enough with them (the contractor for the 2011 improvement project) to give them a $100,000 change order?” Hinnenkamp asked.

It was suggested that Glienke use the carrot-and-stick method with the contractor. If it takes care of its claims, the city will give it the change order. If not, the city would bid out the project.

Although no decision was made, Hinnenkamp noted the issue was time-sensitive, and a decision should be made soon, especially if it were to be added to the 2011 improvement project.

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