Residents of Cherry Avenue, Lake Drive East and a few nearby streets had an opportunity to voice questions, concerns and requests during a public hearing for a major street and infrastructure project planned for next summer on Monday.
The project, with an estimated price of nearly $3 million, involves reconstructing the entire length of Cherry Avenue between Highway 55 and Pleasant Lake, as well as Lake Drive E. In addition, small portions of Candlestick Street, Birch Street and Chestnut Street will be reconstructed. Another small section of Birch Street will be reclaimed and overlaid between Cherry Avenue and Oak Avenue, and Candlestick Circle will also receive an overlay.
At the same time, deteriorating sanitary sewer lines of 1920s vintage will be replaced along with undersized water mains under the street, and storm sewer infrastructure will be added. There was no argument from residents during the public hearing that the repairs were too extensive or unnecessary. Instead, the primary concerns centered on how the work might affect trees and sidewalks along the project length, as well as businesses located near the junction of Cherry Avenue and Highway 55.
There were also questions of how assessments might be affected if there are cost overruns. Sidewalk snow removal responsibilities and more items were also discussed. In regard to the sidewalks, the design has not been completed and planners have not decided if the sidewalk will be moved over immediately behind the curb, or if it will stay in its current place. In some places, the sidewalk may be widened from four- and five-foot wide segments to the standard six feet.
If the sidewalk is moved directly behind the curb, it would be easier for city workers to remove the snow from them, but that would also require the removal of a larger number of trees. “It’s a trade-off, no question,” said city engineer Jared Voge. The general city policy is for property owners to clear the snow from sidewalks in front of their properties, but having sidewalks directly behind the curb would likely mean a large pileup of snow from plows that would be difficult for residents, particularly the elderly, to remove.
One business owner from the south end of Cherry Avenue also asked what kind of disruptions to access would occur, and what would be done to maintain access so that customers could continue to come and go. Public works director Joe Haller said there would be some disruptions, but details of how access would be maintained had not yet been worked out. Any direct temporary connection to Highway 55 would have to be approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.