At its December meeting, the Harmony City Council members discussed at length the possibility of coordinating utility improvements on First Avenue Southwest when the county does a reclaim and repavement project on it next summer.

City Administrator Jerome Illg explained that the county informed the city of the project so the city could do any needed improvements while the road is torn up already.

"If we want to go ahead, we need to get started,' Illg explained. "There are assessment notices and designs that must be done."

Brett Grabau from Stantec, the city's engineering firm, was present to discuss some of the possibilities for the scope of the project.

He provided an informational chart outlining estimates for each possible area of improvement, including sanitary sewer, water mains, storm sewers, sidewalk repair or replacement and street improvements.

If the city went with all areas provided by Grabau, the costs would be about $200,000, but the city could pick and choose what it needs to do.

Breaking the costs down into categories, Grabau explained sanitary sewer improvements could be around $9,300; water main improvements would be the most expensive area at nearly $80,000; utility services are estimated at $25,000; storm sewer issues are estimated at $40,000 and street improvements and concrete work would near $50,000.

Cost sharing options with the county would also be discussed.

In regards to the sanitary sewer improvements, Grabau said, "As far as we know it's perfectly fine. It is clay pipe from Fifth Street to Center and it is aging."

Therefore, Grabau recommended televising the 1,000 feet of sanitary sewer through the city's inspection contract prior to the construction to fully assess the situation. At the least, deteriorated manholes should be removed and replaced as well as those sections of pipe that may not be in good condition.

In regards to the water services in that area, the line is a four-inch cast iron pipe. "It's a dinosaur," Grabau said. "No one uses it anymore."

He recommended replacing that line, from Center Street to Third Street SW with a six-inch pipe and to replace hydrants and valves to provide adequate fire protection in that area.

"We may go up to an eight-inch pipe as the cost may not be that much more - just $2 to $4 a foot - and the benefits would be much greater," Grabau added.

The storm sewer catch basin is an area of concern as Grabau did not feel it is strong enough to withstand the construction traffic. "It's likely way undersized," he added.

Sidewalks, curbs and gutters were also discussed as a possible improvement to be done during this time.

The sidewalk needing the most attention would be the stretch in front of the school.

"We really should do all of that as it's all really in bad shape," said Council Member Jim Bakken.

Chris Johnson, from the city maintenance department, added the pedestrian ramps and driveway aprons along that area are bad as well.

The city would be able to assess part of the project costs back to the property owners benefiting from the project. In the past, those assessments have been at a rate of 25 percent, but Illg noted he would like to check the assessment policy before setting that amount.

The council agreed to have Grabau and his associates at Stantec to begin the design for the project and instructed Illg to discuss the upcoming project with both the school and county to see what options exist for cost sharing the expenses.