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East Grand Forks council members reject street reconstruction project

The council came to the conclusion after receiving feedback from residents that the special assessments from the project would be too expensive.

East Grand Forks City Hall
East Grand Forks City Hall. File photo Brandi Jewett/ Grand Forks Herald
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EAST GRAND FORKS – City Council members rejected all bids received for street reconstruction and utility improvements on Fifth Avenue Northwest and 20th Street Northwest after receiving feedback from residents that the special assessments from the project are too expensive.

The scope of the project would entail a complete removal and replacement of existing streets, driveways and sidewalks; replacement of storm sewer, sanitary sewer and watermains; a new aggregate base with geogrid fabric and drain tile; new sidewalk and ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; and new driveway aprons.

Funding for the project would come from special assessments to homeowners for the street improvement costs, enterprise funds for the sanitary and storm sewer replacements and East Grand Forks Water and Light for the watermain replacement and removal as well as replacement of existing sidewalks.

The total project bid was $2,278,457, with the total street improvement construction set to cost $1,831,452.16. The total special assessment cost would have been $1,475,234, with approximately 53% of the construction costs being assessed to homeowners.

Several residents spoke during the public hearing portion of the council meeting. One resident, who lives on 20th Street Northwest, said many — including himself — wouldn’t be able to pay the special assessments.

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“There’s too many people that can’t afford the project even with what’s being covered,” he said.

Misti Koop, who has long looked for funding that can be used for the project, said more effort must be made to find potential funding. Koop said the project is needed, but residents can’t pay what would be special assessed.

“We all know, yes, it has to happen, but the majority of us can’t pay it,” Koop said.

During Tuesday’s public hearing many residents said the street reconstruction project should have been completed long ago as prices continue to rise.

The council received responses from some of the affected residents. Of the responses received, 20 homeowners are against the project and one is in favor.

Marc DeMers was the only council member who voted in favor of the project, saying prices aren’t going to get any better.

“It ends up exponentially costing people down the road more and I guarantee you if we go down this route it will cost people 20 years from now exponentially more,” DeMers said. “It’s not ever going to get cheaper than it is right now. That’s my belief and I think it is a service to everybody that lives there now and that will live there in the future to do this project right now.”

READ MORE EAST GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL NEWS

In other council news Tuesday:

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  • Council members approved the use of Altru Recreation Partnership Funding for the Grand Bike Share Program for 2022 in the amount of $10,000. After receiving a request from the Downtown Development Association to commit to a $10,000 annual sponsorship to the program back in March, council members looked into where potential funding for the program could come from. While the Minnesota Department of Transportation doesn’t have any available funds or grants that would be applicable, Altru Recreation Partnership funds are available. Parks and Recreation Superintendent Reid Huttunen said he views the partnership as a good use of those funds, with the intention to fund health and wellness activity in the community.
  • The council adopted the findings and decision of the council approving the Special Use Permit for RJ Zavoral & Sons to build and operate an asphalt plant and contractor yard on 22 acres of land that was annexed into the city in early March.
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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