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Two Harbors street improvement plan advances

Following a public hearing Monday, Jan. 14, the Two Harbors City Council ordered the 2019 street and alley improvement project to move forward into the design and bid phase, albeit with some tweaks to the affected blocks.

The council vote unanimously to approve the motion; Councilor Craig Jussila was absent.

Although the council ordered a feasibility report exploring the costs involved in the replacement and repair of seven one-block street segments and alleyways, two segments have been deleted from the project. The segments of Eighth Avenue from Fourth to Fifth Streets and from Sixth to Seventh streets have been removed from this year's road project due to water main complications.

These segments alone would have added and estimated $1.5 million to the total project costs.

With these segments deleted, the total project costs are estimated to be approximately $1 million in total. The segments remaining in this year's project include:

• Eighth Avenue, from Ninth Street to its west end;

• Ninth Avenue, from 15th Street to its east end;

• Alley north of Second Avenue, Second to Fourth streets;

• Alley north of Seventh Avenue, Eighth to Ninth streets;

• Alley north of Eighth Avenue, Eighth to Ninth streets.

During the hearing, the council heard from Robert Best, a resident on Ninth Avenue in the segment to be included in the project. Best pointed out the avenue ends with an entrance to the Rustic Creek Townhomes property and asked how the council planned to address the disparity in usage between his family's single car and the multiple cars that travel to the housing development.

"I mean, if the Rustic wasn't there, we wouldn't have to rebuild that street. They have probably 75 cars streaming in and out every day and we've got one," Best said. "I just want to make sure you've taken that into consideration when you get into the assessments."

Mayor Chris Swanson assured Best they'd find a way to ensure the assessments were equitable.

"We were just discussing a similar situation the other day about dealing with parcels that aren't buildable," Swanson said. "And we do try to make it fair across the board, so I can tell you you're not going to get overcharged for it."

Joe Rhein, the city engineer contracted through Bolton and Menk, added that the assessment policy can be tweaked to reflect issues such as the Best's.

"As we go through these projects, we're finding more things to take into consideration and to test against that policy, which helps improve it," Rhein said.

The next step for the project is to get final plans prepared and solicit bids.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. 

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