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Boardwalk at Kensington Runestone Park plods ahead

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Douglas County commissioners started their Tuesday, September 11 meeting on a somber note.

"Remember how our country was just ripped apart," board chair Jerry Johnson said as the room stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Johnson urged all in attendance to keep that feeling with them throughout the day in remembrance of the September 11 attack 11 years ago.

Remembrance carried into the meeting when Douglas County parks superintendent Al Lieffort's plans to enhance a memorial park in Alexandria were put on hold. Previously, a $50,000 outdoor recreation grant was approved for a horseshoe court at Curt Felt Memorial Park. A picnic shelter and restrooms were also part of the schematic.

"Due to the high bid price, we are recommending to not move forward on this right now," Lieffort said.

Bids received were for $180,000; the project budget was $100,000.

Because there is no sewer connection to Curt Felt Memorial Park, one would need to be made, which was estimated at $10,000. After the Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District reviewed the project, it was learned that the actual cost would be closer to $56,000 to create a sewer connection for the restrooms.

"The building design actually was also a lot more than we expected too," Lieffort added. "We had $50,000 planned for that and the actual prices came in at $100,000."

Another of Lieffort's ventures was discussed at length and finally approved by commissioners. Quotes for a boardwalk path that would extend the walkway from the new entrance of Kensington Runestone Park to the property the county purchased from the Strands in 2008 were received. The walkway includes crossing a peninsula and bridging over 100 feet of water.

Lieffort's recommendation was to not accept the lower amount quoted. Because the project was quoted, not bid, the county was not required to automatically accept the lower amount. Had the project gone out to bid, it could have cost the county more money in engineering costs.

Custom Boardwalks, Inc. in Alexandria submitted a cost of $50,090, which included 320 feet of material at $59.66 per foot and 100 feet of treated wood suitable for open water. Custom Boardwalks would have a contractor install support posts.

Minnesota Boardwalks, LLC offered 320 feet at $64.50 per foot and 100 feet of treated material for a combined cost of $35,090. The county would be responsible for all installation.

Lieffort said Custom Boardwalks has a better quality product; he brought samples for the commissioners to inspect. Custom Boardwalks uses 6-inch treated wood pilings versus 1.5 inch metal that Minnesota Boardwalks uses and 2-inch decking material compared to a 5/4 deck material.

"After looking at the samples, one is more substantial," said county engineer/public works director Dave Robley.

Commissioner Johnson inquired on the lumber's ability to be used in the water and if it was safe for people to come into contact with the wood. Lieffort assured the board that the wood being discussed was up to the task.

"It's approved for use on open water in Minnesota," Lieffort said.

In order for wood to be used in water, it needs to be treated. Lieffort said the treatment used on the wood is chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which is stable in water and not toxic. CCA preserves the wood and keeps it from rotting.

Both quotes come in under the $70,000 designated in the budget to complete the trail system; the boardwalk alone was estimated at $50,000. The project will be paid for by a Legacy grant that funds 90 percent with a 10 percent local share. The local share is paid with money in the county parks budget.

Commissioner Paul C. Anderson initially indicated he would vote against the purchase because it involved taxpayer dollars.

"I think we've put enough money into the Runestone Park," Anderson said.

Lieffort reminded the commissioner that Douglas County has a contract with the state of Minnesota to use the funds to carry out the intended projects; the money is already allocated to the county for park improvement purposes.

"If we're not going to carry out this work, then we need to rescind this contract," Lieffort said. "We can give the money back and they'll give it to some other city or county."

In the end, all five commissioners voted to accept the quote from Custom Boardwalks.

CONSTRUCTION SEASON CONTINUES

At a bid letting held on September 10, Landwehr Construction out of St. Cloud was awarded the contracts for two bridge projects.

One bridge that will be replaced is on County Road 111, also known as Geneva Road. A concrete box culvert that is similar to the culvert under Highway 29 will replace the existing bridge at the channel between Lakes Geneva and L'Homme Dieu.

Robley said since the boating season is coming to a close the timing is favorable for construction in that area.

The low bid submitted by Landwehr was for $559,633, which was less than the engineer's estimate of $562,474. The Geneva Road project will begin this year.

"This is opportune timing," Robley said. "Last year we had water everywhere, this year the water's down as much as it possibly could be."

Another bridge is scheduled to be replaced on Mill Pond Road in Millerville Township. This project involves replacing the bridge with a concrete box culvert that has a water spillway because it is part of the dam that created the mill pond, Robley said.

The Millerville project will be done later this year.

2013 LEVY CERTIFIED

The preliminary county levy was certified at $25,134,304.

"The levy cannot go higher than that; it can go lower," said county auditor/treasurer Char Rosenow.

This is a 2.07 percent increase from last year. Commissioners will meet on December 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the public works building to hold the annual public hearing on the budget and levy.

STAFFING PLANS

The county board is preparing to move forward with its search for an information technology director.

County coordinator Bill Schalow said a dozen applications have been selected for review. Commissioners will meet on September 20 to filter through the candidates and narrow the pool down to between four and six individuals who will be selected for interviewing.

In a one-minute discussion, County Assessor Keith Albertsen was reappointed by the board to another four-year term.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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