Baxter City Council plans for public engagement tools for railway crossing project
Open houses and a host of other ways to reach out for public feedback is part of the 2022 Inglewood Drive railway crossing project.
Virtual meetings and an online remote feedback tool are some of the options open to the city of Baxter as it seeks public input on a future construction project.
Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Baxter City Council approved a Bolton & Menk Inc. engineering contract fee amendment No. 1 in the not to exceed amount of $50,560.00 for the 2022 Inglewood Drive railway crossing and associated roadway improvements project. The feedback tool is a customizable geographic information system-based online mapping and information sharing tool. It allows users to provide comments and allows the city to provide large amounts of information with people then able to respond to original comments. Those comments can then be compiled for a report to city officials.
“We are recommending this tool because of its potential and power as public engagement tool during the design phase of this project, especially considering COVID19 meeting restrictions and public sentiment, and its ability to seamlessly transition into the construction phase of this project,” Bolton & Menk reported.
The work is expected to include two open house events to spread awareness of the project and encourage public feedback. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a likelihood meeting restrictions will be in place potentially into next summer, Bolton & Menk reported in a September letter to the city regarding the proposal, noting they are planning to host two virtual meeting events.
“The project is focused on the relocation of the Knollwood Drive traffic signal and railroad crossing to Inglewood Drive, pavement rehabilitation on Foley Road, public utility improvements, and an improved configuration for the Forthun Road and Isle Drive intersection,” Bolton & Menk reported. “The original schedule provided for agency coordination, design, and final plans in 2020 and construction in 2021.”
Bolton & Menk also recommended use of narrated video as a communication tool, which can be merged with PowerPoint presentations into a YouTube video. A project website would also be created and have information on schedules, announcements, information boards, comments and handouts, among other material. Two newsletters were also recommended with background information, a project timeline and other data.
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In other business, the council: Accepted the Country Club Estates feasibility report and limited use agreement to approve stormwater discharge into the city storm sewer system. The homeowners at the Estates have been dealing with high groundwater issues and in 2011 requested a connecting sump pump to the city’s sewer system. The sump pumps currently discharge into the backyards of the housing units and is then basically on a loop through the system. This would allow the high water to be removed during the warmer months and will be disconnected when temperatures drop to freezing. There are 30 homes in the Country Club Estates of Golf Course Drive.
Approved the Anderson Brothers Construction Co. of Brainerd LLC change order three, increasing the contract price by $11,992.45, changing the final completion date to Oct. 30, for the Lift Station No. 11 reconstruction project, and fund $7,994.97 of the trail repairs from the general fund parks maintenance department professional services budget.
Approved the Anderson Brothers Construction Co. of Brainerd LLC partial pay estimate one in the amount of $112,346.82 for the Lift Station No. 11 reconstruction project.
Accepted the Woida Road improvements feasibility report.
Approved the R L Larson Excavating Inc. partial pay estimate No. 5 in the amount of $1,555,744.79 for the 2020 South Sanitary Sewer Interceptor, North Forestview Improvements and North Forestview stormwater outfall improvements project.
Approved a 2020 Fairview Road, Golf Course Drive, Excelsior Road & Trail Connection and 2020 Oakwood Drive trail connection improvements project change order No. 4.
Approved the Anderson Brothers Construction partial pay estimate No. 6 in the amount of $564,224.04 for the 2020 Fairview Road, Golf Course Drive, Excelsior Road and trail connection and 2020 Oakwood Drive trail connection improvements project.
Approved a contract to provide a required estimate of what it costs to provide health insurance benefits to retired employees who stay on the plan. Jeremy Vacinek, city finance director, said some cities have an extensive cost for that as it was offered as a benefit, people have lived longer and health costs have risen.
Vacinek said the disheartening thing is Baxter really doesn’t have that issue but is still mandated to generate the report as a government accounting standard. Baxter is required to go through and actuarial study every two years and update the information in between. Mayor Darrel Olson said it’s a bone of contention every year and they have to pay to provide a report to note the city doesn’t do it. The city doesn’t provide any money toward a health insurance premium once an employee is retired. The actuariaial study cost of $2,200 is in the 2021 budget and $500 will be accounted for in 2022, the city reported.
Adopted a resolution providing for the competitive negotiated sale of $6,120,000 general obligation improvement bonds, series 2020, as part of the city’s annual, long-term financing for utility and street improvement projects, and set a special council meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 23, to award the bonds
Authorized a contract execution for employee dental insurance renewal. The city began providing the service for employees in 2006, a 2% increase in premiums was proposed for the 2021 renewal. Last year, the increase was 3%, which came after four years without increases.
In council comments, council member Connie Lyscio thanked the public works department in advance for the work expected with the Tuesday snowstorm. “It could be a really long season,” Lyscio noted. “Be careful and be safe and know that we really appreciate your work.”
Council member Zach Tabatt echoed Lyscio’s sentiments. Council member Mark Cross encouraged people to be patient with the weather, with COVID-19 and to get out and vote. To end the meeting, Olson got a laugh out of the group as they met via Zoom with most of them attending from home.
“It’s slippery out there,” Olson said. “Be careful as you drive home to your houses.”
Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.