BY STARRLA CRAY
WINSTED, MN In an effort to keep the Kingsley Street area safe and usable for the public, while minimizing the impact to nearby homeowners, the Winsted City Council is reaching for a plan that combines all of these goals.
“We’ve exhausted every option,” Council Member Max Fasching said at Tuesday’s work session.
After a lengthy discussion, the council directed city engineer Jake Saulsbury of Bolton & Menk to prepare a design that includes a 32-foot wide street, and removal of the existing sidewalk. The design will also include a 6-foot-wide trail along Winsted Lake, which will widen to 8 feet at the south end of Kingsley Street.
Giving up a grant
A 12-foot-wide trail would have been less expensive for the city due to a grant from the Department of Natural Resources, but the extra space would encroach on nearby properties.
Saulsbury informed the council that the $100,000 grant from the DNR is only available for a 12-foot-wide trail. This means that the city’s cost for a trail this size would be $74,000.
Conversely, a 6-foot-wide trail, with no grant, would cost the city $88,000.
Street and trail width
Constructing a 12-foot-wide trail with a narrower street (27 feet wide) was an option, but there were drawbacks to this, as well.
“The wider the road, the easier for emergency vehicles to get through,” Police Chief Justin Heldt commented.
Currently, the width of Kingsley Street varies from 40 feet to 32 feet, according to Saulsbury. He added that many of Winsted’s older streets are 40 feet wide, and the standard for cities today is 34 feet wide.
Of Winsted’s locally-maintained roads, Saulsbury said he believes Kingsley Street has the most traffic, and a narrow road with a narrow trail could be a safety issue.
“Most bike trails are 10 feet wide or more,” Saulsbury said.
The paved portion of the nearby Luce Line State Trail, for example, is 10-feet-wide. One goal of the trail along Kingsley Street is to help connect the Luce Line through town. It is also an opportunity to remove heaving sidewalks, according to Mayor Steve Stotko.
“We’re never going to have another opportunity to do this,” he said.
Impact to the city
The majority of the project costs will be paid for by the entire city, while some improvements will be assessed to nearby property owners. Many portions, including the trail, are non-assessable.
Saulsbury commented that although the public tends to focus on visible items, the project will also have unseen benefits, such as replacement of the lift station, forcemain, manholes, and watermain.
Sixteen trees will need to be removed for the project. They will be replaced at a city cost of $500 per tree, for a total of about $8,000.
Before the project is finalized, engineers will put together a design, which will be presented to city staff. There will also be an open house for the public to ask questions and provide input.
Plans will likely be approved in March, with bids being sought shortly after.