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Crow Wing County: County to improve steep approach to Cuyuna road

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Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray looks back to the projection screen with a map as he discusses a Cuyuna road approach improvement project with the county board of commissioners at its Tuesday, Sept. 10, meeting. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

It’s been an uphill challenge to flatten the steep approach from a Crow Wing County roadway to a private road in Cuyuna.

“I had been at the city of Cuyuna city council meetings for -- I think, that was the fifth or sixth month in a row trying to get this project moving forward before winter,” County Engineer Tim Bray told the county board.

The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners authorized the county engineer at its Tuesday, Sept. 10, meeting to enter into a contract with a Crosby excavating company for $27,500 to improve the approach to Powder House Road, off County Highway 31, before winter.

“I’m happy to report that we have come to find a way forward on one of the projects that we’ve been working on for a number of years,” Bray told the board Tuesday.

Commissioner Doug Houge chimed in with his support of entering into a contract with Holmvig Excavating of Crosby.

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“The (Cuyuna) fire chief … even suggested that they would not even be able to get equipment up that approach in the winter months, so it’s been a concern for a number of years,” Houge said.

County Attorney Don Ryan and Houge went Monday night with Bray to Cuyuna to discuss the private road located south of downtown Cuyuna with city officials.

“But the long and short of it was in 1991, the county came through and improved County Road 31 and dropped the grade at this entrance and steepened the slope to this private entrance,” Bray explained.

“Although it met standards -- and it still does meet standards of 15% -- recently it’s becoming a challenge for the residents up there and actually sliding down the hill and creating some challenges for us and them,” Bray said of the county roadway that was dropped about 4 feet.

In 2016, the county put together a plan to remedy the steepened slope that basically meant going around the local hill -- leaving more room and a flatter grade for area residents.

“If we go kind of around the hill, it can flatten it to a better grade. It won’t be flat, but it will be much improved and help with the sliding of vehicles into the county roadway,” Bray said.

About 300 residents call the city of Cuyuna home, according to the city’s website, but the population swells seasonally in part thanks to the 5,000-acre Cuyuna Country State Recreational Area and the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail system.

“We are in for about 60% of the project. It is a private road in their community, so we’ve asked them to contribute, too. There’s been some challenges of that, and then spending public money on a private road and those kind of things,” Bray said. “Don Ryan helped us with an agreement to move forward where the county will front the money, so we can get this project done and get this improved for the residents up there this winter, and then go back to the city ... and recoup the 43% we’re asking them to contribute to the project.”

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The road approach improvement project was bid back in 2016, and Holmvig Excavating was the lowest bidder at the time. The owner of the Crosby-based company said he would honor those bid prices.

“I consider him and his company a partner, too, because they’re holding the line on the bid prices that are now three years old, and that’s good for us and the residents up there,” Bray said.

County Administrator Tim Houle said, “We have a role to play in approaches. We don't generally do a private road. We do approaches to private roads all the time, and so I think that it’s an important distinction for 20 years down the pike when someone’s looking back at this.”

Houge then made a motion to authorize Bray to enter into a contract with Holmvig Excavating to improve the approach to Powder House Road. Commissioner Paul Koering seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Janelle Vesely, community services program specialist, and Katie Gonzalez, sheriff’s office senior technical/administrative specialist.

Authorized entering into a snowmobile trail license agreement renewal between the county and the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center Inc. for a snowmobile trail for the Baxter Snowmobile Club, effective Oct. 30, 2019, through Oct. 30, 2021.

Approved the 2019 temporary on-sale liquor license applications of the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association for the temporary on-sale of liquor at the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association Curling Club, Oak Lawn, on the dates of Dec. 8, 2019, Jan. 26, 2020, and March 29, 2020.

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Approve the county land use map amendment request by Joseph and Carlene Grenier of Brainerd to rezone 20 acres from “rural residential 20” to “rural residential 10” in Long Lake Township.

Appointed to the planning commission/board of adjustment Susan Maske to replace Mark Haglin as the District 1 representative for a term expiring Jan. 31, 2020.

Rescheduled the county board meeting from Dec. 10 to Dec. 11 because of a scheduling conflict with the annual Association of Minnesota Counties conference scheduled for Dec. 9-11 in St. Cloud.

I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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