Baxter City Council: Light poles shift for Fairview project

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After originally preferring to put street lights on Fairview Road’s southside to help illuminate both the street and the trail, Baxter City Council members agreed to a change.

After meeting via Zoom Tuesday, April 21, the council agreed to the change after running up against a clear zone buffer around existing Brainerd Public Utility power lines that posed an obstacle for street light placement. In addition, the council was told the position of the poles and a photo metrics analysis pointed to greater light for the trail if the street lights are on the north side of Fairview.

The council accepted the engineer’s recommendations.

In other business, the council:

Scheduled its annual storm water public information meeting at 7 p.m. June 2.


Awarded the Whiskey Creek project grant writing services to HR Green for an agreement not to exceed $6,800. The city noted it did not get a positive response from local legislators about including this project in a bonding bill this session. Staff reported the city’s best interest is to find a firm with extensive experience in getting the funds the city is looking for the project.

“After meeting with representatives from two firms (HR Green and Wenck & Associates) to discuss the project, City staff believes the City would be best served if it were to work with HR Green with this endeavor,” staff reported. “The company’s lead staff member would be Shawn Tracy, who is the individual who did the initial Subwatershed Water Quality Analysis and the follow up Whiskey Creek Feasibility Study while he worked for other firms (HDR and WSB). His knowledge of the project and track record on getting projects funded made HR Green stand out above the other firm.”

Approved a contract fee amendment with WSB for an increase of $66,250 for the 2020 Fairview Road, Golf Course Drive, Excelsior Road and trail connection and 2020 Oakwood trail connection improvements increasing the contract from the proposed $251,665 to $317,915. The city noted the amendment to the contract will not result in a project cost increase in relation to numbers presented at the Feb. 27 assessment hearing. The project remains within its budget, the city reported.

For the increase, city staff presented a list of six items WSB worked on, including additional meetings with business owners along Fairview Road, purchase of additional right-of-way and utility easement, preparing a color exhibit related to utility coordination in the project area and staking a gas line relocation, as well as working with the city and others to resolve a proposed pedestrian crossing flasher locations. The construction project was expected to last seven weeks and is now predicted to last 12 weeks.

In council comments at the end of the meeting, council member Zach Tabatt said he wanted to thank people for the efforts and sacrifices they have been making related to the coronavirus pandemic. “I really believe that the fact that it’s relatively easy now to start to think that this isn’t as bad, health wise, as it could have been, is in large part because people have been so good about the sacrifices they’ve made, social distancing and staying at home. So I wanted to urge people to continue to be patient and to continue to follow the guidelines.”

Tabatt also noted a goal to reevaluate the processes and platforms the city is using while people are forced to do things differently and to make things more friendly coming out of this like remote permitting or more ways to take payments, cloud based technology and others. This is an opportunity to rethink work from home for staff and to communicate, Tabatt said.

Council member Todd Holman agreed and he said if there is a way for people to attend construction projects through virtual meetings that would also be helpful. Holman said he has also gone by parks, in reference to the council’s discussion at its last meeting following concerns of larger gatherings in the parks and people playing basketball, and found them to be ghost towns. “I really haven’t seen any problems in the parks,” Holman said, noting people are adhering to the closed park facilities.

RELATED: Baxter City Council considers changes to parks access
Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted agreed, noting limited activity. He said the trails were extremely busy with people social distancing on the trails. Mayor Darrel Olson said originally it seemed the hot spots were the basketball courts and it was heavy for a while but that hasn’t been seen recently so maybe people are taking it seriously.


Olson asked for clarity on what closing the park facilities means, adding people may have thought they couldn’t be in the parks at all and that wasn’t the intent. Brad Chapulis, city administrator, said the buildings and restrooms are not available based on the local emergency the city declared to deter large gatherings, but the trails, fields and open spaces are open to people to use whether that is throwing a Frisbee or playing catch. “Our parks are open for that type of recreation,” Chapulis said.

Council member Mark Cross said, “My council comments would be to thank staff and thank the citizens for what they are doing through this emergency and just to tell everybody to stay safe.”

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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