Blue Earth considering housing plans

BLUE EARTH — Blue Earth City Council members on Monday discussed options regarding housing development in the city.

The council is aware there is a need for townhomes and multi-family housing options in Blue Earth.

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority was able to acquire some property and will begin the process of moving forward with potential development.

Two housing plans from the HRA have been updated, including preliminary cost estimates. The first plan includes 33 lots, with an estimated cost of $2 million, or $61,168 per lot. The second includes 14 lots, with an estimated cost of $1.17 million, or $83,380 per lot.

Following council discussion regarding each option, council members approved a motion to have engineers Bolton & Menk Inc. put the two lot options out for bids.

In other news Monday, the council discussed plans for wastewater treatment plant improvements. Plans have been completed and submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The agency has indicated the plans are acceptable, though it will not work toward approval until the Clean Water Revolving Fund financing has been approved by the Legislature.

Because of the lack of funding, a positive bidding environment has been created and the city of Blue Earth is considering moving forward with this project.

An updated cost estimate for the wastewater project has been completed. The cost has been increased to account for items found during the design process, including additional electrical equipment improvements; the addition of an effluent lift station and hydraulic piping changes; and paving to replace the aged driveway surfacing.

The estimate for the wastewater treatment facility improvements stands at $4.8 million to $5.3 million, with add-on costs totaling $650,000.

Three alternative funding ideas were proposed. The first involves financing through the state Clean Water Revolving Fund at an estimated interest rate of 1.5 percent. The second alternative is financing with city bonds at an estimated interest rate of 3.5 percent and a $200,000 decrease in the capital cost of the project. The third option is financing with city bonds at an estimated interest rate of 3.5 percent and a $600,000 decrease in the capital cost of the project.

In other business, the council approved Addendum 1, a professional agreement from General Engineering Services for the Strategic Transportation Research Study sidewalk project. The project’s purpose is to improve the city sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. Eighty percent of the project will be paid for with federal funding.

In other news, the council:

o Received an update on city parks and streets. Work on the fairgrounds restrooms proposal is ongoing; the pool slide fundraising committee will commence fundraising next month for a new slide at the city pool; and the tennis courts will be replaced beginning in the first week of June.

o Discussed options regarding the hours of the Blue Earth Liquor Store. It was mentioned by council members that the city of Fairmont decided not to open its liquor store on Sundays because of cost concerns. Council members discussed possible options for the liquor store’s Sunday hours, including a six-month trial period to see how much business the store receives on Sundays, the possibility of opening the store on certain Sundays (such as special occasions like Superbowl Sunday) and the possibility of closing earlier on other nights to accommodate for Sunday hours. The council has yet to make a decision regarding this matter.