Vote planned tonight: Residents express concerns on proposed Baxter street projects

BAXTER--Baxter's five-year plan is to address ongoing maintenance on all of its 85 miles of city streets. The Baxter City Council Monday hosted its first public improvement hearing to listen to concerns of neighbors who live on the first segment ...

This map shows which roadways are part of the proposed 2016 mill and overlay project for the City of Baxter. The Baxter City Council will vote on the project at 7 p.m. today, April 19.
This map shows which roadways are part of the proposed 2016 mill and overlay project for the City of Baxter. The Baxter City Council will vote on the project at 7 p.m. today, April 19.

BAXTER-Baxter's five-year plan is to address ongoing maintenance on all of its 85 miles of city streets.

The Baxter City Council Monday hosted its first public improvement hearing to listen to concerns of neighbors who live on the first segment of roadways that are on the schedule for mill and overlay improvement work this summer, if approved.

The council scheduled the meeting at The Journey North Community Church in Baxter instead of city hall to accommodate a larger crowd, as the work affects several property owners. About 45 people attended the meeting.

Aric Welch from Widseth Smith and Nolting went over the project before Mayor Darrel Olson opened up the public hearing, which lasted about 40 minutes. In that time, residents had the chance to weigh in on improvements on various roadway segments within the city's ongoing pavement management program, which includes residential and commercial roadways.

The commercial roads being reviewed by the city include segments of Clearwater Road and Woida Road and residential streets including Cedardale Lane, Brentwood Road, Briarwood Lane, Birchdale Lane, Ashdale Lane, Second Street, First Street, Maplewood Drive, Kenwood Drive, Kenwood Court, Glenwood Drive, Madeline Drive, John Street and Mary Street. Construction of a right turn lane for eastbound College Road traffic for those who want to turn south onto Cypress Drive is among areas for review.


In total, the projects have an estimated city cost of $236,890, or 17.6 percent, and assessable project costs of $1.1 million, or 82.4 percent.

Estimated costs with the residential projects alone are $857,530, which impacts 277 lots, with an estimated $3,096 per lot. With the commercial area, the city cost is estimated at $70,000 with $254,050 in assessable costs. The Cypress Drive turn lane may cost $166,900.

Construction would begin in June and be completed in August.

The project is contingent on what the council decides. The council plans to vote today, April 19, at their regular scheduled council meeting that begins at 7 p.m. The resolution the council will vote on includes ordering the improvements, the plans and authorizing the advertising for bids for the project.

The city commissioned a management plan study in 2013 to address the ongoing maintenance and funding of the city streets. The study recommended increasing street maintenance budget to maintain all streets with a condition of five or above; and that ongoing preventative maintenance would save property owners the higher cost of more frequent reconstruction.

The details of the improvements being proposed include a mill and overlay of all residential roadways in the project area. Milling-removing the top 1 1/2 inch of the existing bituminous surfacing and then the overlaying-would add 2 inches of new bituminous surfacing.

Other improvements of the project include:

• Reconstructing the sanitary sewer manhole casting/rings and install water infiltration barrier.


• Bituminous repair of the broken up pavement at the corner of Mapleton Road, where the roadway turns from a north/south to east/west direction.

• Bituminous curbing on Ashdale Lane from First Street to Highland Scenic Road.

• Ditch improvements on Maplewood Drive.

• Pavement markings for residential roadways.

The commercial roadway segments, Woida Road and Clearwater Road, were considered to be in "fair" or "good" conditions when reviewed in 2013. The study has two options for the commercial roadways, which includes milling and overlaying the roads. The report states the roads are state-aid roadways, so the city would have to construct to 10-ton design standards to better handle heavy commercial traffic.

In the feasibility report, the intersection of Cypress Drive and College Road will need to be upgraded.

Sean Randall, who lives on Glenwood Drive, asked the council how they picked the roads for the 2016 projects, as the roads are not as bad as other roads in Baxter, such as Excelsior Road.

Trevor Walter, city engineer/public works director, said the roads chosen were the ones recommended by the feasibility study. Walter said Excelsior Road is a state aid road and currently the money for state aid is low as the city did a portion of Excelsior last year behind Westgate Mall. Walter said the remaining portion of the road is scheduled next year when more state aid money would be available.


Walter said every street in the city is addressed in the city's five-year plan.

Jody Mies, who lives on Birchdale Lane, said of the 277 property owners involved in the proposed improvement project, the amount of people who showed up for the public hearing is "poor."

"I want to thank the people who showed up," Mies said. "I would like to say as a resident, I feel we got pushed into this. I didn't know it was on a five-year plan until I got a letter and now you will be making a decision tomorrow (April 19). I talked to a few neighbors and some didn't understand what the letter meant. They thought it might be an inconvenience so that may be why they are not here. I think if they would have been contacted earlier the turnout could have been better."

Baxter resident Naomi Houdeck asked if the project has been on the city's five-year plan, "why are we just finding out about this now?" She questioned whether the city could hold off on the plan. Welch responded this is the first time the city was able to talk to people about the project at the public hearing. He said the plan is to extend the life of the roads and if the city waits it will become more costly.

Bob Clough, who lives on Mary Street, was concerned about what kind of interest rates the city would get for the project, as it seemed the project came out later than it should have to begin construction.

Welch said this was the earliest the city could have brought the project forward.

"We should get good prices, but we won't know until we go out for bids," Welch said. "Hopefully we will have good news for you when we have the assessment hearing."

In the feasibility study, the interest rate was estimated at 4.75 percent. Prepayments and partial payments will be allowed up to 30 days following the assessment hearing. Then the assessment balances will be certified by Crow Wing County with payments to be on next year's county tax statement.


A member of the audience stated the monthly payment for residents would be about $43.40 a month.

Several residents had construction questions, such as Nancy Hirschenberger, who lives on Cedardale Lane. She asked if property owners should mark their sprinkler heads so they don't get damaged while the street work was being done. Welch suggested property owners could mark the sprinkler heads with flags.

She also was concerned if the end of her driveway and the new street surfacing would be even with no gaps. Welch said they would be.

Another resident, Ryan Salsbury, asked for more detail on the shoulders of Glenwood Drive and how those improvements would be done. He also asked if the contractors would seed the area when they are completed with the work.

Andrew Dwyer, who lives on Birchdale Lane, asked about the lifespan of the overlay project of the streets. Welch said the cracks will come through within a year or two and that is why the city will maintain the streets and do crack sealant.

Bill Freihammer, a business owner, said he thought the city was presenting the mill and overlay projects to property owners at the last minute. He said the city could do better with communicating with its residents in the newsletter.

Freihammer also was concerned about the projects getting done in the timeframe presented, as last summer's road projects were delayed and some are still not done.

When the hearing was closed, Olson said the city has tried to be up front with its residents on the city projects. He said some of the roads in the city have lasted, but some have reached their capacity.


"We appreciate you coming tonight," Olson said. "We picked up some valuable information to make us better."


JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

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