WSB engineer Tom Kellogg speaks about design proposals for Industrial Drive as city staff member Kay Coe listens during last Monday’s Chatfield Committee of the Whole meeting.
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS WSB engineer Tom Kellogg speaks about design proposals for Industrial Drive as city staff member Kay Coe listens during last Monday’s Chatfield Committee of the Whole meeting.
Chatfield’s City Council, administration and staff convened last Monday, April 10, for the first committee of the whole (COW) meeting of the month, with city engineer Tom Kellogg of WSB, available to answer questions about plans for the development of Industrial Drive.

Kellogg introduced the proposed plans for designing the commercial sector on Chatfield’s south end on either side of Highway 52, including where drainage would be necessary, whether culverts would be installed at certain points along the street and how sidewalk might be placed.

Maintaining a dry plane near Tuohy Furniture was of particular interest, as Kellogg stated he had met with the furniture factory’s proprietors and learned they would like the surrounding landscape to remain as rural as possible. This included, specifically, keeping the trees and what is known as “Tuohy Pond” intact and not extending too many “city” aesthetics into the neighborhood.

The engineer reported, “I left the meeting with the Tuohys with them believing this would be a rural section. We owe it to them to have a second meeting and at least tell them about our plans (to install curb and gutter).”

Council member Josh Broadwater asked, “Why are they so worried about being rural?”

Kellogg answered, “It’s rural today and they’d like it to be rural tomorrow.”

Economic Development Director Chris Giesen added, “In conversations, what we learned was that they felt that ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’.”

Councilor Paul Novotny said, “I’m leaning toward no curb and gutter, but we’d still have the option.”

Kellogg went on to outline where larger pipes will be installed on Amco Drive to mitigate flooding issues – Broadwater related that often there is flooding in his yard because the smaller drainpipe backs up during heavy rainstorms – and the engineer acknowledged that it needs to be addressed.

Additionally, conversation encompassed how much the streets need to match once new pipes are under the streets, as Kellogg gave estimates for intersections that could have new pavement put down in order to make the surfaces match.

Councilor Mike Urban questioned, “Is it necessary to do a mill and overlay?”

Kellogg informed him that the mill and overlay included in the street project estimate for the south end of town was simply for visual appeal.

“If you’re comfortable with different colors of roadway, then no.”

Broadwater commented, “The road’s going to get beat up anyway.”

Kellogg concurred, “You can move that way, then, and save the city some money.”

The engineer also shared that the design phase of developing Industrial Drive and its lots – which the city hopes to sell only after infrastructure has been put in to serve potential businesses – is nearing a crucial point.

“Right now, the goal is to have the plans and specs ready for the May 22 meeting, and you’d open bids on June 21 and pass them at the June 26 meeting,” Kellogg said. “If you think you can meet that schedule, then it’s a 12- to 16-week project. If it’s 16 full weeks, then you’re right up against when the bituminous plants are closing.”

Novotny posited that the city could ask the contractors to reach substantial completion of the street and water main project and then return the following year to finish, but there were some objections on the engineer’s part and on the part of some of the councilors.

Kellogg pointed out that substantial completion might mean that some of the work would have to be redone.

“If you do curb and gutter and wait a year, you could possibly have undermining of your curb and gutter if there’s heavy rains,” he said.

Novotny countered, “There’s not one road around Chatfield that was done all in one year that doesn’t suck. In my mind, there isn’t a big push to get this done. If we put the first layer on and get it back to drivable.”

Giesen interjected that if the city applies for a grant for the underground work to be done, it may have an impact on the project’s timeline.

Kellogg suggested, “The funding opportunities may be greater later in 2017-2018 if you own the plans and specs.”

Broadwater wanted to know from Giesen how much interest has been expressed in the undeveloped Industrial Drive lots.

Giesen quoted, “Right now, I’ve got someone interested in seven lots…the economic development authority is doing 3-D modeling right now of Industrial Drive.”

Later in the meeting, Giesen illustrated that because the lots are zoned B-3 commercial, it is hoped they will be home to light industrial businesses such as electricians, plumbers and other contractors who need an official home but do not need a large facility or to be downtown with the retail businesses.

Broadwater asked whether any landscaping would be done to screen the businesses from the surrounding subdivisions because of concern for property values. He was told that some considerations would be made for screening homes from view of the commercial buildings.

Urban cautioned against planting trees to fill that role. “Trees…the last thing you want to do is plant trees and have to tear them up again because you’re working on another part of the (street) project,” he added.

The meeting wound to a close with Kellogg noting that some “tweaks” may have to be made to the drainage system that surrounds Tuohy Pond, but for the moment, he recommended doing nothing until more information could be gathered.