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Engineering work stalls for 18th Ave. project in Alexandria

The Alexandria City Council didn't second a motion to approve a revised $903,711 engineering agreement for the $8.15 million project.

Agenda - Monday, May 23, 2022
The first phase of the 18th Avenue project is marked in yellow.
Map courtesy of Wideseth
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ALEXANDRIA — A motion to approve an engineering agreement for the 18th Avenue reconstruction project in Alexandria failed to get a second at Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting.

Council member Roger Thalman made the motion to approve the $903,711 agreement, which has been revised six times, but after Mayor Bobbie Osterberg repeatedly asked for a second, no one spoke.

"What are the consequences?" Osterberg asked.

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven said he would look into it and report back to the council at its next meeting. In the meantime, he said the first phases of the $8.15 million project will continue as planned.

Since February, the engineering agreement increased from $744,142 to $903,711, a 21% increase.

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Before the motion failed, Schoonhoven talked about the engineering increase. The project's construction schedule was recently extended into 2023 to allow contractors more flexibility and more time was needed for engineering inspection and administration.

The engineering work would be an eligible municipal state aid expense that will cover up to 25% of the construction cost. The city's portion of the total construction cost of this project is $4.4 million so the total amount of eligible engineering is $1.1 million, Schonhoven said.

The project will reconstruct 18th Avenue between Nokomis Street and Fillmore Street. It includes reconstruction and realignment of 18th Avenue, the reconstruction of Hawthorne Street between 17th and 18th Avenue, the reconstruction of Jefferson Street between 12th and 18th Avenue, and a right turn lane on Broadway.

The project will also replace old water lines, outdated sewer systems, and eliminate a lift station that would need to be replaced soon.

Schoonhoven said the revised “milestone” dates for the $8,153,741 project are:

Milestone 1: Phase 1, complete all work by Oct. 15, 2022. This work includes a new deep sanitary sewer that will extend approximately 1,500 feet south of 18th Avenue.

Milestone 2: Phase 2 and 3, complete work during the 2022 or 2023 construction season at contractor’s option. If work is started in 2022, complete all work by October 15, 2022. If work is started in 2023, complete all work between May 15, 2023 and Aug. 4, 2023. The 18th Avenue work (phase 2) will take place between Jefferson and Nokomis, through the Alexandria College campus. It includes new water main, sanitary sewer and storm sewer and a new 44-foot-wide street with curb and gutter and with a five-foot wide sidewalk on the south side and a 10-foot-wide concrete trail on the north side. This area also includes planter islands and decorative street lights. The work on Jefferson Street (phase 3) will take place between 12th and 18th Avenue and is a reclaim of the pavement between the existing curbs with some new sidewalk on the west side plus some new sanitary sewer and storm sewer.

Milestone 3: Phase 4, complete all work by Sept. 15, 2022. West of Broadway, the 18th Avenue work includes new watermain, sanitary sewer and storm sewer and a new 30-foot-wide street with curb and gutter and with a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side. The street will be on a new curved alignment that will eliminate the offset intersection. Between Broadway and Hawthorne, the 18th Avenue work includes new watermain, sanitary sewer and storm sewer and a new 44-foot-wide street with curb and gutter and with a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side. The work on Hawthorne, between 17th and 18th Avenue, includes new watermain, sanitary sewer and storm sewer and a new 44-foot-wide street with curb and gutter and with a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side.

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Milestone 4: Phase 5, complete all work within 14 calendar days and by Sept. 15, 2022. This work includes milling of the existing pavement and restriping of the traffic lanes. This is the shortest phase. Paving must be completed within five days of the milling of the pavement.

Milestone 5: Phase 6, complete all work by Aug. 4, 2023. Between Hawthorne and Jefferson, the 18th Avenue work includes new watermain, sanitary sewer and storm sewer and a new 44-foot wide street with curb and gutter and with a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side. This section also includes underground stormwater chambers to reduce stormwater flow rates and improve water quality.

New options for breweries

The council took preliminary action to amend its off-sale malt liquor licensing that would allow small breweries to sell their products in containers other than 64-ounce “growlers.”

This will align Alexandria with a new state law known as the “Free the Growler” bill that allows smaller breweries to sell four and six-packs of beer. In addition, the law gives smaller breweries in Minnesota — like Copper Trail Brewing Company and 22 Northmen Brewing Company in Alexandria — more options for selling their products to those who want to take them to-go.

Although there are some limitations, it does allow the smaller breweries to sell to-go products like standard-size bottles of liquor and four and six packs of 12-ounce or 16-ounce cans of beer and hard seltzers.

City Administrator Marty Schultz said he talked to the city's liquor store manager, Andy Mellgren, and he had no concerns about the new law.

In a June 3 Echo Press story, the owners of Copper Trail Brewing Company, Adam Graf and Dave Gibbons, said they were extremely excited that the bill passed. “It has been a long road and a lot of hard work, but it has finally paid off,” Graf said. “For us, we will be able to start selling beer in 16-ounce cans as another off-sale option for the consumer.”

Graf added those who opposed the bill argued that allowing breweries to sell their products in cans would hurt other retail shops. However, Graf said it will actually allow many breweries to expand into the market and grow the craft beer scene around the state, which in turn will benefit retail shops.

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“We will be able to put many more varieties into 16-ounce cans now, so you’ll be able to see those brands on liquor store shelves too! It’s going to be great for everyone,” said Graf. “It’s going to be exciting to continue to grow our brand as a brewery in Minnesota with the laws finally getting brought up to date.”

‘Make Music Day’ set for July 12

A new event, “Make Music Day,” received a permit from the council.

Carlson Music Center is organizing the “open mic night” street fair that will take place on Tuesday, July 12 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Ninth Avenue from Broadway to the alley behind Carlson Music Center will be closed.

No alcohol will be served.

One other special event permit was issued – Habitat for Humanity of Douglas County will hold “Hard Hat” events on Wednesday, June 15 at Knute Nelson Memorial Park.

Two programs will take place to recognize Habitat’s success over the past year and all the sponsors and volunteers who helped make it happen. A Home Run Lunch is set for 11:30 a.m. and a Home Plate Happy Hour is set for 4:30 p.m.

Elm Street will be closed between Fourth and Fifth Avenue from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the programs.

About 600 participants are expected to attend.

New infield turf at baseball field?

Knute Nelson Memorial Park may soon replace its infield turf, which was installed back in 2008.

The estimated payback time for the turf was 10 years and the product was under warranty for 12 years.

Parks Director Bill Thoennes and the Alexandria Area Youth Baseball Association said the old turf has served its useful life and needs to be replaced.

The city obtained some informal quotes for the new turf and they ranged from $340,000 to $675,000. The city may enter into a cost sharing agreement with the AYBA but needs to have actual bid amounts before moving ahead, according to city staff.

The council authorized staff to solicit bids to replace the entire infield at least six feet beyond the infield arc into the outfield, and the foul territory along the first and third baselines to the front of the two dugouts and the backstop.

Viking City pays demolition costs

Viking City, the mobile home park at 1611 6th Avenue East, which had two hazardous lots demolished by the city, agreed to pay the costs.

The demolition expenses for Lot A2 and Lot F1, along with attorney fees and other costs, amounted to $20,035.

The council voted to accept Viking City’s check as payment in full and to close the files on the two lots.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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