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Baxter holds Clearwater street project for at least a year

BAXTER - Work on Clearwater Road will wait at least a year as Baxter looks at options for a pedestrian/bicycle crossing over Highway 371. The route is identified as the preferred crossing in the city's comprehensive plan. The issue arose in an up...

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Baxter City Council members share a laugh during Tuesday's regular meeting. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER - Work on Clearwater Road will wait at least a year as Baxter looks at options for a pedestrian/bicycle crossing over Highway 371.

The route is identified as the preferred crossing in the city's comprehensive plan. The issue arose in an update on a proposed slate of street projects, which are anticipated to begin in August if bids are favorable. At Tuesday's council meeting, Scott Hedlund, Short Elliott Hendrickson senior project manager, noted it's a tight timeline with construction expected to be completed in mid-October.

Plans are for street work on Edgewood Drive, Dellwood Drive and Glory Road with single lanes kept open using flaggers. Detours are planned with temporary closures Foley Road and Elder Drive. With the improvements, Hedlund said the city won't be painting fog lines or edge lines except where there is no curb and gutter and they don't plan to repaint through arrows.

Council member Todd Holman suggested painting the fog lines for the project area around Clearwater Road by the Target entrance and Golf Course Drive. He suggested 11-foot driving lanes and at least some bit left after the fog line to allow a space for bicycles noting this may be the corridor to connect to the Paul Bunyan State Trail. Holman said the paint would be a minimal cost. After discussion, Trevor Walter, public works director, said he'd rather hold construction there for a year rather than do something now that won't hold up for the city's future. Staff will work on a feasibility study for the pedestrian bridge.

Council member Quinn Nystrom was absent.

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In other business:

Heard CliftonLarsonAllen report on the recent audit, noting the city's total debt liability has been decreasing and the city continues to be very stable. The city's outstanding general obligation bonds were almost $36 million in 2007 and is down to $15 million as of 2014 for a notable debt reduction in eight years, CliftonLarsonAllen reported.

The city has ample reserves. The city's water fund is not fully covering depreciation and if it continues will show more expenses than revenues, as will the sewer fund. The city's storm water fund is fully covering depreciation and operating expenses.

The city's sales tax collection fund increased about $1.4 million in 2014. The city's employee retirement benefits liability is considered minor. Next year, the city will have to report unfunded Public Employees Retirement Association as a new liability on paper. But if PERA is overfunded, the city will get to report an excess. The new liability reporting was described as a reaction to the role of retirement debt in government bankruptcies.

Cross noted Youth As Resources is hosting an art show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Gregory Park in north Brainerd for various artists.

Approved variances to allow homeowners to construct a 30-foot-by-30-foot addition to a home on Timber Ridge Drive. The home is on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The zoning ordinance requires a 30-foot setback. the addition allows a zero-foot setback. The variances were granted with the condition the best management practices will be used to protect the bluff during construction. The city's planning commission approved the variance and the DNR supported it. Josh Doty, community development director, said the area has steep hills and the addition would be constructed on a flat area on the lot close to the crest.

Set a special council meeting at 6 p.m., July 16, to prepare for an assessment hearing for the 2015 mill and overlay street projects.

Approved an agreement with Short Elliott Hendrickson for professional services not to exceed $5,900 for the parking layout at Super One Foods to prepare for the 2018 Cypress Drive roundabout project.

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Set a date for a review of Gordon Heitke, city administrator. The council set a first option as 6-8 p.m., June 30, with a second date on July 2. The session will be at the city hall.

Set a special meeting on at 6 p.m., July 13, for the north Inglewood project.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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