By Nicole Brodzik
The July 25 meeting of the Mound City Council started out with a presentation from Centerpoint Energy’s Roger Schmitz who was there to present a Community Partnership Grant to the city.
“The community grant partnership program offers a way for Centerpoint to partner with the cities we serve,” Schmitz said. “Through the program, we’re able to help cities purchase necessary safety equipment and safety projects that are important to your community.”
Schmitz added that since the project started in 2003, Centerpoint has donated $1.5 million to the communities they serve and have funded 775 projects with that money.
“I’m pleased to present the City of Mound with a community partnership grant of $2,500 that will be used to purchase an automated external defibrillator, or AED, and traffic control equipment,” Schmitz said.
The council thanks Schmitz and Centerpoint for the donation.
Next up was a public hearing for the feasibility report for 2018 street utility and retaining wall improvement project. City engineer Brian Simmons did a brief review of the information he presented in the last city council meeting before the floor opened for a public hearing.
Simmons showed a slide of the finished Tuxedo Boulevard project as a reminder of what the council is working towards.
“After all of the inconvenience, this is what we’re left with as a finished project,” Simmons said of the picture of the newly paved road.
He again explained that the accelerated time line for this project is based on the Metropolitan Council’s projects that will run alongside Mound’s improvements. By combining projects, the city is saving money and therefore decided to move forward now.
Simmons explained that the areas they are assessing coordinate only with the city’s improvements and not the Metropolitan Council’s construction. He also said that the assessment estimates presented were not finalized as a clarification.
“This is just the beginning of the process,” Simmons said. “ We have a long ways to go before these assessments become final.”
For the Westedge Boulevard project, the city estimates a total cost of around $1,050,000, of which $222,000 will be assessed to residents. When broken down, that means an estimated assessment of $5,895 per unit. Simmons mentioned that this number comes in under the council’s cap of $6,600 dollars so that does not play a part in this project’s assessments.
After Simmons’ presentation, the floor was opened to the public for the public hearing. There were a number of questions and concerns expressed by residents on everything from assessments to where the retaining wall was being placed.
Bruce Stillman was the first to speak, asking how the improvement is going to raise his property value by the assessed amount.
“I’d much rather pay $5,000 and improve my bathroom,” Stillman said. “I personally object to this and I’ll notify the council right now that I object to it. I don’t believe that it will increase my property value by $5,000.”
Mayor Mark Wegscheid stepped in saying that while he understands it’s not a literal improvement to Stillman’s, or anyone’s, personal property, by way of improving the community and traffic flow, it will raise property values along the road.
“I’m not necessarily a fan of being assessed a bunch of money either,” Wegscheid said. “In the end, it’s our traffic. It’s our community. The problem with the way we do it now is that I get hit with a bill that maybe I wasn’t planning for, that I don’t have the ability to pay, versus a better process. We don’t know what the process is yet.”
“Homes in towns that take care of their roads sell for more than homes in towns that don’t,” Hoversten said.
Another resident asked about whether or not he should remove any of his landscaping that’s in the area to be dug up by the upcoming project. Simmons and the council agreed that anything with sentimental value should be dug up, but that otherwise the construction crews will be discussing replacement of any shrubbery that is removed in the project.
“Fall is the best time to dig them up for transplanting,” Hoversten added.
THe council closed the public hearing and approved the resolution ordering improvement and preparation plans for the 2018 Street, Utility and Retaining Wall Improvement Project which was approved unanimously by the council.
The next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, August 8 at 7 p.m.