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Baxter City Council: Final hearing convenes for Memorywood Drive project

A graphic of the roadway in its current dimensions (top) and the changes illustrated (bottom) once Memorywood Drive is reconstructed and other amenities are added. Graphic courtesy of Widseth Smith Nolting 1 / 2
Property owners of plots along Memorywood Drive attend a public hearing Tuesday, April 23, on the upcoming 2019 reconstruction project. Per the most recent estimates, residents would be assessed $5,729.09 per plot of land, plus interest. Gabriel Lagarde / Brainerd Dispatch 2 / 2

BAXTER—It's perhaps, proverbially speaking, that last half-second of calculation on the diving board before the plunge.

The Baxter City Council convened a special public hearing Tuesday, April 23, for any final comments, concerns or clarifications on the 2019 Memorywood Drive improvements project. Roughly 20 or so residents came out for a presentation by project engineer Aric Welch of Widseth Smith Nolting and the question-and-answer session that followed.

"The road is in such bad shape that we couldn't do a mill and overlay project," Welch said. "We have to do a full-depth reclamation."

In short, the project would entail a full-depth reclamation for Memorywood Drive. This means crews would reconstruct the roadway—essentially, chewing up the current roadway into a 7 1/2-inch layer of base material, with an additional 4 inches of bituminous pavement poured on top.

This would retain the road's width of 34 feet, though it would be reconstructed in a way that retains two 11-foot through lanes, as well as two 6-foot bike lanes. The plan would include the reconstruction of adjoining driveways to match the new height of the road. The plan also includes adding "No Parking" signs and would entail some property acquisition for site corners at Clearwater Road. Drainage improvements, such as stormwater ponds and stormwater pipes, are also included.

The estimated total amount assessed for the Memorywood Drive improvements project is $1,784,339, with $1,086,130 for the road, $517,824 for storm sewer water infrastructure and a further $180,385 for city improvements—down from the initial total estimate of $2,215,190. This means the amount assessed to the city (and, as a result, taxpayers) has also been decreased from $1,361,890 to $999,454.

Welch noted properties that will be assessed include plots adjoining the road and those featuring direct access to Memorywood Drive to the tune of $5,729.09 each for 137 plots. These plots could include multiple assessments for larger plots subdivided in smaller units, or plots with multiple dwellings on the property, which would incur an assessment for each dwelling.

Following Tuesday's hearing, the project should be launched during the next regularly scheduled council meeting May 7 and bidding for the construction project will commence this summer.

Some notes from the discussion

• Property owners will not be able to use credit cards to pay for assessments.

• If property owners pay the full amount of the assessment back to the city within 30 days of the council's adoption of the assessment (expected at the next council meeting May 7 to June 6) there will be no interest incurred.

• The assessment can be paid in portions or in full up to Dec. 31 at the end of this year. Then the costs will be rolled over into increased property taxes incurred on the property owner, per Finance Director Jeremy Vacinek.

• Disruptions in terms of water flow—which should typically last a couple hours to half a day, though it could be more depending—should be announced to residents 24 hours prior to shutting off the water. If there's particular circumstances to account for—such as a private business—Welch said the city is willing to work with property owners to make these disruptions as noninvasive as possible.

• Construction should be roughly 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during its duration, per Welch.

• One attendee noted she was in opposition to having her property assessed twice on account of its size. After communicating she sent a written notification to the city explaining her situation, Public Works Director Trevor Walter said the city would respond in two weeks.

Gabriel Lagarde

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