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Residents voice concerns on upcoming Knollwood improvement project

The Baxter City Council had a special meeting Thursday, June 16. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the tentative improvements to Knollwood Drive that are intended to happen in 2023.

Residents gather in front of city council to voice concerns over a road construction project.
Knollwood residents sit and listen June 16, 2022, to project plans to improve Knollwood Drive and the trail along the road.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — The Knollwood Drive reconstruction project in Baxter is moving forward.

The Baxter City Council hosted a special meeting June 16 to discuss tentative improvements to Knollwood Drive scheduled to happen in 2023.

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.

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 Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. The trail currently is noncompliant due to the degree of slope the trail has because of driveways.

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With an estimated cost of $2,451,098 for the project, the roadway itself would cost about $1,651,172. Of the $1.6 million for the roadway, the city would pay an estimated $1,030,652 with 60 residential lots assessed at an estimated $10,342 each, to cover the remaining $620,520.

There was also a public hearing for the project at the special meeting. Seven members of the community who reside in the project area gathered in front of city council to discuss their concerns and listen to the project plans.

Many of the concerns brought up by the community members dealt with how the project would affect day to day life. Mail and garbage services were big concerns during the discussion.

The conclusion for those discussions was more information will be provided when the project is closer to beginning.

“We'll try to keep the road open as much as we can,” said Aric Welch, the Widseth consulting engineer on the project. “There's been times, like underground jobs, where you have the entire roadway torn up. We just work with you to get your garbage in a place where they can pick it up.”

The mailboxes will probably be moved to a central location, but garbage will most likely remain at the end of residents’ driveways as usual, he said.

“We'll have another meeting and have more information about mailboxes and temporary mail and stuff like that,” Welch said.

Another concern was the cost of reconstruction of driveways. Residents were concerned with the dimensions of the driveways and what the city is covering. The issue revolved around making the driveways slightly larger than what they are now, making it easier to transport trailers onto the driveways.

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The project prices may continue to go up, which could cause the project to be postponed, said Brad Chapulis, city administrator. Once a contract is in place, the city can opt to postpone the project if it becomes too expensive.

“At this point in time if the council orders the improvement, which would be the next step, that gives the city staff the OK to enter into a contract with the consultant to do the design,” Chapulis said. “That design has a value that we can do the project in 2023 or 2024, 2025, whatever down the road. So that's the next step.”

There are no further meetings scheduled for the project at the moment, but there will be a design meeting between the city and project leaders sometime in the summer or fall.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com.

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