The Harmony City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday evening, Jan. 21, for a public hearing on the improvement project for First Avenue Southwest. Brett Grabau explained the scope of the project to the residents who live along the street and discussed how the new assessment policy will affect the adjacent property owners.

Grabau, an engineer with Stantec Consulting Services, explained the construction project, which includes the entire length of County-State Aid Highway 35/First Avenue Southwest will begin in June, after school is out, and will be funded by the issuance of general obligation improvement bonds.

The proposed utility improvements include the trunk water main, along with services to adjacent properties, will be replaced from Center Street West to Third Street Southwest. All other public utilities within the project area are in good shape, Grabau said, and will only require adjustments for the roadway improvements.

The street will be reconstructed by reclaiming the existing bituminous pavement and underlying aggregates and resurfacing with five-inches of bituminous pavement. This also includes replacement of the existing concrete curb and gutter, sidewalks, pedestrian curb ramps, driveway approaches and pavement markings.

The street width will remain as they are currently between Center Street West and Eighth Street Southwest while the section south of that will be narrowed to 32-feet in width from Eighth Street Southwest to Highway 44.

The four-inch water main between Center Street and Third Street will be replaced with eight-inch DIP/PVC pipe. Residential properties will be supplied with a one-inch copper water service and school and church properties will have a four- to six-inch DIP/PVC service.

Storm water catch basins will be replaced. Both storm water and sanitary sewer structures will be adjusted for the new road surface.

Grabau also went over the estimated project costs, which will total nearly $1.058 million. Broken down, the majority of those costs will come from the street improvements at $847,127.16; the water main project is estimated to cost $62,700; storm sewer, $42,867; sanitary sewer, $8,250; utility service, $25,077; and pedestrian facilities at $71,636.

Property assessments will raise roughly $236,142, again the majority coming from street improvement assessments of $211,065 Another $25,077 will be assessed for utility services.

Grabau explained the proposed assessments are based on a new assessment policy adopted by the city at its December meeting. Assessments to the adjacent property owners are 40 percent of the street reconstruction project costs and 100 percent of the water service reconstruction from the main to the home. The street assessments will be based on a maximum of 150 lineal feet and a minimum of 60 lineal feet, Grabau said. "This makes sure larger lots won't be hit so hard and small lots won't get off with hardly any impact," he added.

Grabau also noted that only 20 percent of the frontage along a second side of a corner or dual frontage lot will be assessed. This includes properties on Third Street, which were assessed for a street improvement project just a year ago.

The city will pay for 100 percent of the trunk water main costs; 100 percent of the trunk sewer main costs; 100 percent of the storm sewer costs and 100 percent of the sidewalk costs.

Grabau told the property owners that a reasonable estimate of the total amount of the street and water service project cost, which will be assessed to the benefitting property owners, will be $236,142. "I realize that is pretty precise for an estimate," Grabau joked, "But the assessment is approximately 22.3 percent of the project costs of the improvements."

In the past, the city had a "common practice" of assessing 25 percent of the total project costs. Grabau highlighted that with the new policy, the property owners will actually be impacted less than in the past, even though the assessments are higher on the two portions being assessed to the property owners.

The other items being covered by the city are benefitting the entire community rather than just the adjacent property owners, said Mayor Steve Donney. Because of that, the city and property owners as a whole will assume those costs, which will be paid through user fees.

Since the road is also owned by Fillmore County, the county will be picking up a portion of the total cost as well.

Questions

Cindy Berg, as one of the residents living on First Avenue Southwest, asked whether her retaining wall would be disturbed and if it was, would the contractors replace it when the construction project was completed. Grabau explained that the retaining wall should not be affected, but if it was, the contractors would indeed restore it to its current condition.

Dan Tieffenbacher, another resident on the street, asked if his assessments would be larger since he lived on the portion of street where the street was wider. Grabau said the assessments would be calculated the same for all residents, as if they all lived on the standard 32-foot width.

Another resident asked how the school and church are assessed for the project.

Grabau said that both are assessed like a commercial property or industry and the city also assesses itself for the park property, each sharing the costs for the project fairly. He added that the undeveloped lots across from the nursing home, near Highway 44, are also assessed, but those are deferred until the properties are developed.

Final thoughts

Grabau shared that the property owners will feel some impact by the project during construction, but felt the contractor should be able to do the project with limited disturbances. They may have a temporary location for their mailboxes and may have brief periods of time when access to their driveways is limited when curbs and gutters and driveway aprons are poured.

Project schedule

The city council was to have reviewed and approved the plans and specifications for the project at its meeting on Tuesday night of this week. The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners was expected to approve submitting and advertisement for bids during its meeting on Tuesday as well.

The bid opening for the project is expected to take place on March 13 with the city council reviewing those bids at a special council meeting on March 17. The Fillmore County Board will then award the bids at its meeting on March 18.

Construction is expected to begin on June 9 with substantial completion to be done by Aug. 25 and final completion by Sept. 26.

A final assessment hearing for the adjacent property owners would take place on Oct. 14.