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City moves forward on Pacific Avenue project

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The Morris City Council approved two resolutions at their meeting Tuesday that will help get a Pacific Avenue improvement project underway next spring.

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The first resolution approved an agency agreement with the Minnesota Commissioner of Transportation to accept federal aid for the project, and the second accepted a bid and awarded a contract for the work.

City Engineer Jeff Kuhn told the council the project consists of federal, state and some local funding. The federal funding is roughly $400,000 and state funding is about $200,000.

The City of Morris will be contributing about $163,000 - primarily the cost of the sanitary sewer and storm sewer improvements. Between $30,000 and $40,000 of that total will come from special assessments property owners along Pacific Avenue.

Council member Jeff Miller asked if there had been any estimates about what the assessment for each owner would be. Both City Manager Blaine Hill and Kuhn said the estimates might be higher than other projects, but the city would work to keep the cost down.

"Based on the numbers I had run ... [the assessments] were going to be slightly higher than some of your past projects," said Kuhn. "It's kind of been city policy to do more of a running average when it comes to those type of projects and bring that number down in line with some of the past projects."

The second resolution accepted a bid from Kuechle Underground of Kimball, Minn. for just over $589,000 for the project. The city received three bids, and Kuechle was the lowest. The resolution also authorizes the city to enter into a contract with the company.

Kuechle Underground previously contracted with the city on an infrastructure replacement and installation project in the Highland Homes Addition in May 2009.

"Kuechle is a very good company," Hill told the board. "They don't wait around. They get in, do their work, and get out. ... This one is probably going to go pretty quick with them."

Pomme de Terre shoreline reconstruction

The council passed a resolution supporting a grant application for the Pomme de Terre River Association to complete a shoreline restoration project just below the dam on the Pomme de Terre River.

High water has caused the area below the dam to wash out, meaning there needs to be work done to stabilize the shoreline. Hill told the council he had received calls asking about what the city would do about it, but said it really wasn't the city's responsibility to restore the river shoreline.

"I've had some calls about this too," said Mayor Sheldon Giese. "It's not our property, so there's not a lot we can do, but we can certainly do this."

To deal with the problem, the Pomme de Terre River Association will be applying for a grant from the Minnesota Clean Water Fund to work on the project, which means it will not cost the city anything.

The resolution also give the association permission to cross city owned property to complete the work.

The Pomme de Terre River Association is a joint powers board with members of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of West Ottertail, Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Swift and Big Stone counties.

Other business

• Hill informed the council that Morris does not, in fact, have a pirate castle within city limits, despite the Jolly Roger hoisted at the old elementary school building last week. Hill told the council that the city is having "major problems" with the abandoned building.

"We're going to have to have a serious discussion about what we're going to do with that building moving forward," Hill said.

• Hill told the council that the water meter replacement project was going well so far. Two technicians from Ferguson Waterworks have been working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days to complete the replacement.

"I haven't heard anything from anybody that it's not working the way it's supposed to work," Hill said.

• The council set a budget work session for Thursday, Oct. 7 at 4:30 p.m. in the city council chamber.

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Kim Ukura
Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing. 
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