Knollwood residents urge council to postpone 2023 Knollwood Improvement Project

Knollwood residents gathered at city hall for an assessment hearing regarding assessments for the upcoming Knollwood Improvement Project tentatively planned for 2023.

Citizens gather and listen to a presentation about future construction plans in Baxter.
Baxter residents gather at Baxter City Hall Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, to express their concerns regarding assessment costs for the Knollwood Drive improvement project tentatively planned for 2023.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Dozens of Baxter residents gathered Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Baxter City Hall for an assessment hearing for the upcoming 2023 Knollwood Drive improvements project.

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The assessment hearing was the last meeting concerning the project before the Baxter City Council votes on whether to adopt the assessments on individual property owners during its Feb. 7 meeting.

Some residents who attended the meeting spoke out against the project due to what they described as high assessment amounts and very little notice about the costs.

Alex Bitters, a civil engineer on the project, gave an overview of the project and total costs.

The affected area of Knollwood falls between Foley Road and Highland Scenic Drive. The main purpose is to improve the conditions of the road and the trail along Knollwood.


The estimated cost for the project is $2,212,841. Of the total cost, the city would pay an estimated $1,612,168 with 60 residential lots assessed at an estimated $10,011 each, to cover the remaining $600,673.

For the lots not covered by the city, the assessment balance will be spread over a period of 12 years with an estimated 8% interest rate on the bonds sold. Interest will accrue through the end of the calendar year and payments after 2023 must be paid in full by Nov. 15 to avoid the following year's interest.

The main concern residents sought to address with the council was the high cost of assessments. The residents urged the council to consider postponing the project until the residents of Baxter could reasonably afford it.

“This all sounds awesome and everything, but $10,000 — plus property taxes just went up another $1,200 — and I have 30 days to come up with it,” said Jim Baillif, a Knollwood Drive resident. “It’s insane. Yeah, I live on the lake, but I’m just a lowly civil servant. I don’t have $10,000 laying around.”

Baillif added he has a kid who he’s helping pay for college.

Another resident asked if they could do the road improvements without the trail improvements or vice versa.

“Per the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) transition plan, when the city does an improvement in a municipal area, no matter what that is, they have to make the improvements to meet ADA,” Bitters said. “So the city has to redo this trail, if they redo this road.”

Originally constructed in 2000, the roadway, once updated, would fit within the current 36-foot footprint of Knollwood Drive. The proposed reconstruction includes reducing road width to 32 feet and reducing the 12-foot trail to 10 feet with an added 5-foot boulevard space in between the road and the trail.


The improvements to the trail would also bring the section into ADA compliance. The trail currently is noncompliant due to the degree of slope the trail has because of driveways.

All council members were present at the hearing except Mark Cross. Previously, the council approved two resolutions relating to the project. One was to declare the cost to be assessed and order preparations for the project and the other was to set the date for the proposed assessment hearing.

The council will vote on adopting the assessments during its meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Baxter City Hall.

SARA GUYMON may be reached at 218-855-5851 or at . Follow her on Twitter at .

Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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