Minnetrista holds hearing, approves Enchanted Lane, Tuxedo Road project

By Nicole Brodzik
[email protected]

During the Jan. 17 Minnetrista City Council meeting, the council held a public hearing for the Enchanted Lane and Tuxedo Road reclamation project.

“As you know in 2014 we had some flooding on Enchanted Island, particularly on Enchanted Lane was probably the heaviest hit,” City Engineer Paul Hornby said. “In looking at Enchanted Lane, we also are looking at the condition of Tuxedo Road and Tuxedo Boulevard so we included all of those in this project at the council’s direction.”

The project will include a reclamation of the pavement, which means that that material currently on the roads will be ground up and mixed with new material to lay out new pavement on those streets. There has been “extensive patching” to parts of the roads, according to Hornby, and the improvements will create a more stable footing for the future.

The project looks to reclaim and reconstruct the existing pavement on Tuxedo Road and Enchanted Lane, and allow some minor adjustments to help improve drainage from the road and prevent flooding. The cost of all this is estimated at $876,300.

Hornby said the city has gotten multiple complaints from residents saying the city should be covering more of the costs. He said the city will pay a portion of those, but that they will need to look at special assessments of residents to help cover the project from around 60 benefiting properties. The proposed assessment would cost property owners between $5,000 and $7,000 per unit, which could be paid off over a 15 to 20 year period.

The hope is to begin construction of the project in May 2017 and final assessments would be out in October of this year.
“One of the reasons we’re doing this is these roads are the only ones going in or out of the island area,” Hornby said. “It’s a much more practical than reconstruction.”

Hornby said the reclamation will be very minorly disruptive. The pavement is torn up, pulverized and mixed with the new material in one step and then will be graded by machinery.

One long time resident spoke to the council about her concerns about the motivation behind the project.

“I have lived through 16 years of seasonal flooding,” she said. “I understand that that portion of the road needs to be fixed and I know that my neighbors have been asking it to be fixed for a very, very long time. I just can’t get rid of the feeling that you are doing this project to fix the road and get financing. By doing this you can get a bond instead of just fixing the road where it needs to be fixed.”

She then asked how much it would cost to fix the 250 feet of pavement that regularly is submerged in seasonal flood water.

Hornby said he did not immediately have an answer to that.

Mayor Lisa Whalen said the reclamation will help with the seasonal flooding and that simply fixing that area would mean possible future damage and that in order to correctly fix the grade of the road, it takes more than a quick cosmetic fix. Though the new road will be better suited for flooding, she also explained that it doesn’t mean the road will never flood again.

“The other thing we looked at is how to make it so it doesn’t flood, and that would have raised it higher than we are going to do,” she said. “What happens with that is you have to build more into the wetland. You’re moving the road and you’re raising it, those were all going to be really high costs. Doing the reclamation project is going to raise it just enough to get it out of the seasonal flooding but not so much that it never will flood.”

Not all residents were opposed to the project however.

“You talk about seasonal flooding, but the truth of the matter is that every rain is a seasonal flood for us on that road,” Enchanted Lane resident Keith Morical said. “It’s a safety hazard. I want to thank you for continuing to push this thing forward.”

The council voted unanimously to order improvements and authorize the plans for the project. The next Minnetrista City Council meeting will be held on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.