City OK’s plans for 2013 street project

The New Prague City Council approved plans and specifications for the 2013 street improvement project and ordering of bids. The move came on a 4-1 vote, with the no vote cast by council member Pat Scripture.

At its Tuesday, Feb. 19, meeting, Scripture questioned the validity of whether the street work improves property and special assessments. She believed that violates both the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and the state’s constitution.

Council member Mark Bartusek stressed they were voting on the plans and ordering of the bids. He said discussions on special assessments would be at a later meeting. He made a motion for the vote.

Mayor Chuck Nickolay asked that they finish discussion before they vote.

While Scripture agreed to wait, she provided information after the meeting from the League of Minnesota Cities’ Special Assessment Guide. It was noted that special assessments are valid if:

• The land receives a special benefit from the improvement

• The assessment does not exceed the special benefit measured by the increase in market value due to the improvement. A special assessment that exceeds the special benefit is a taking of property without fair compensation and violates both constitutions.The street and utility improvement project for 2013 includes 

• Central Avenue N from Main Street to Third Street

• First Avenue NE from Main Street to Second Street NE • First Street NW from First Avenue NW to First Avenue NE

• The commercial alley, north of Main Street, from Central Avenue N to First Avenue NE

• The reconstruction of the parking lot south of City Hall

Another aspect of the project is a proposed parking lot north of City Hall. It will be bid as an add-alternate to the work.

Chris Cavett of the city’s engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson (S.E.H.) Inc. informed the council about the layout and landscaping for that parking lot. The entrance to the lot would be from the road behind City Hall.

He noted the landscaping around the lot would help manage water. It was proposed that curb inlets be built to allow for water to run off from the lot. The water would then go to rain gardens. A storm sewer would be nearby, but would be for overflow of water.

"I think this method we’re showing is the most practical," said Cavett.

He noted the plants may need maintenance for two to three years, but once established they would likely be maintenance free.

Council member Shawn Ryan asked how many city employees use parking around City Hall. City Administrator Mike Johnson said they have 12 to 14 employees who would likely use the north parking lot. The south is used by a variety of residents, local business owners and their customers.

Street Lights Also discussed was the replacement of street lights with LED lights. Electric Operations Supervisor Bruce Reimers said the LED lights would be more efficient. There are 10 proposed poles with single globe fixtures to replace the existing High Pressure Sodium (HPS) poles with three globes. The estimated annual savings would be $1,768.

Reimers said it was estimated the LED lights could last for 20 years, where they were replacing the current ones every four years. Added to that cost was having to send out a bucket truck and personnel.

The old poles would be kept as spares and used as replacements if the other ones were damaged.

"I think it’s a great idea," said Mayor Nickolay.