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City holds public hearing on Pacific Ave sewer project

MORRIS - Business owners on Pacific Avenue expressed concerns to the Morris City Council about the scope and duration of a federally funded road project slated to start next spring.

City Manager Blaine Hill said the city sent out about a dozen notices to property owners that will be impacted by this "small, federally funded" project. Because the project is being paid for with federal dollars, planning needs to happen now to begin work next spring.

Frost has been "throwing out" the storm sewer underneath Pacific Avenue, causing a hump in the roadway. Despite maintenance efforts to level the street, the storm sewer continues to cause problems, City Inspecting Engineer Jay Fier said at the council's meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

"The main reason for doing this project is to try and take care of that storm sewer once and for all," Fier said. The plan is to put 18 inches of rocks underneath the pipe, insulate over the top, and adjust the grade of the sewer - a plan suggested by frost experts the city consulted. The city also decided to replace the sanitary sewer at the same time.

Business owners Tom Lesmeister and Joe Lembke asked the council about timing on the project and expressed concerns about keeping their businesses open during construction.

"My biggest concern is how long it's going to last and when is the project going on," Lembke said. "I have to rely on getting people in and out of there. The sooner it gets done the better, or the later the start the better for me."

Early estimates put the length of the project at eight weeks, but Fier said he thought it would be closer to 12, depending on weather and working to keep local businesses open.

Lesmeister also asked about possibly lowering the road to deal with drainage problems he said were caused by raising the road last time it was worked on.

Hill pointed out that adjusting the road height would mean changing the curb and gutter and assessing the fee to property owners. He also said he didn't know if it would be possible to change the plan that much at this time, as the federal review process for the plan has already taken place.

Bids for the project will open next Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. Hill said the bids will come to the city council for review at the next meeting.

Small Cities Development Program

Jodi DeCamp, executive director of the Stevens County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, spoke to the council about a Small Cities Development Program Grant worth $362,420.

Although the HRA will be doing the work distributing the grant money, the City of Morris is technically the grantee and so will be in charge of channeling the funds.

Almost $220,000 of the grant will be used for owner-occupied rehab in both Morris and Donnelly. This money is enough to work on seven projects in Morris and four in Donnelly. The HRA received 20 pre-applications for the program in Morris and an additional 15 in Donnelly.

Other business

  • The council authorized the Morris Fire Department to apply for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant to purchase a thermal imaging camera system, a foam trailer with supplies, and training to use the foam trailer.
  • The council accepted a grant award of $128,250 from the Federal Aviation Administration to construct a parallel taxiway at Morris Municipal Airport. The City's contribution for this projet will be $6,750.

The council's next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 5:15 p.m.