E. 10th Street N

This view looks south on E. 10th Street N from Park Avenue as the asphalt surface is pulverized in September 2019.

While one Ladysmith street reconstruction project drew no audience comments at a recent public hearing, a second drew much greater attention.

About a half dozen property owners attended the Monday, April 25, city council meeting to speak on a planned reconstruction this year of E. 10th Street N between Park and Menasha avenues. None spoke at a similar hearing two weeks earlier about planned work on the Summit Avenue cul-de-sac off W. Fifth Street N.

Property owner Don Rubow, who is facing $23,427 in sanitary sewer, water and curb and gutter special assessments on two undeveloped parcels questioned the improvements. He asked if sanitary sewer will be deeper than is currently on-site.

One of his lots has a $3,200 assessed valuation with a projected special assessment almost triple that amount. The other lot is assessed at $6,100 with a projected special assessment almost double that amount. 

“All you are doing for me is creating a $20,000 white elephant,” Rubow said. “I don’t want to be a negative, but I don’t see any value of this project to my property.”

Public Works Director Kurt Gorsegner told Rubow the sewer main would not go deeper than it now is and service would be stubbed into the property. If the lots are ever developed, a pump would be needed to push sewage from the residence to the sanitary line in the street.

In February, the council voted unanimously to award the reconstruction of E. 10th Street N from Menasha to Park avenues to Haas Sons with the low bid of $362,960. 

City officials estimate special assessments will total $124,899. This breaks down to $61,781 for water, $54,578 for sanitary sewer and $8,539 for curb and gutter.

Carol Hennekens, speaking for her mother, property owner Rose Cilek, asked special assessment billing related questions including how charges are calculated per property, if interest is charged and if sewer and water would be extended west on Park Avenue.

“Do you know if the elevation of the road is going to be raised?” Hennekens said. “It might make a difference with her corner lot because she is sunk in a little bit lower.”

Gorsegner said street elevation will remain about the same, but stormwater improvements are planned to help improve drainage.

“I don’t think the elevation is going to change greatly. I know stormwater catch basins are going to be installed on that corner to try and pick up that stormwater and try to direct it better,” Gorsegner said. ‘There are going to be two on each side to try and pick up that stormwater. It does get water there.”

Utilities will not be extended up Park Avenue with work occurring only on E. 10th Street N.

Hennekens also asked if the road will be made wider.

“There were no plans to substantially widen the road. It will have a better shoulder on it than it does now, but it won’t be much wider than it is now,” Gorsegner said.

Hennekens also questioned the road’s slope given lots in some areas are below street level.

The city has hired engineers to design the road, which should address these issues, according to Gorsegner.

“The last thing we want to do is pave a road and create a water problem for somebody. I am sure they have taken that into account to try and direct that water,” Gorsegner said.

The project is expected to begin in August mainly due to short supply of materials like hydrants, valves and pipes, according to Gorsegner. This is later than recent major street work in the city that starts before Memorial Day.

“It is not a very big project. As far as projects go there is not a lot of pipe work,” Gorsegner said.

Costs are special assessed based on linear feet of street frontage. Utility assessments for corner lots are special assessed only on the side from which the service is provided.

Property owners will receive their special assessment bills next year and have 20 years to repay the totals. Interest rates have yet to be set, but the last rates were 5 percent, eventually reduced to 2 percent.

“It is a per-foot amount the bid amount it came up to divided equally per foot,” Gorsegner said. “It is 2 percent interest and you can spread the payments out 20 years.”

Alyssa Olynick, speaking on behalf of former property owner Earlene Tiegs, who died last year, raised questions about landscaping and any tree removal. 

Landscaping will be repaired at the time of paving, according to Gorsegner. He added if trees need to be removed, this work will be done by the contractor.

Olynick also asked how special assessments are handled when a property is sold, such as if the current owner is responsible or handed off to the purchaser.

“How does that happen if we sell the house while this is going on?” Olynick said.

Gorsegner said it depends.

“Sometimes they are paid up front before the sale. Sometimes the buyer assumes the assessments. It all depend what they agree to,” Gorsegner said.

The special assessment average is about $112 per foot, residents at the meeting were told by city officials. Assessments cannot go higher than those already provided by mailings to property owners.

There is no sidewalk proposed in the project.

In other matters, the council:

— Voted 7-0 to approve applying for a BIL/STP grant. A Bipartisan Infrastructure Law/Surface Transportation Program. The BIL allows states to fund up to 15% of small urban and rural federal funding allocations on minor collectors and local roads. The roadway also must be located outside of urbanized areas (a population of less than 50,000) to be eligible for STP-Local funds. If granted, the funds would be put toward improvements to Barnett and Gustafson roads in the city’s industrial park and W. Fifth Street N between Lake and Gates avenues. Barnett and Gustafson roads have a $782,556 projected total cost for resurfacing.  W. Fifth Street N is projected to cost $766,000.

— Continued discussion on drafting an ordinance requiring public hearings that would prohibit trains from blocking rail crossings for long periods of time.

— Heard Fire Chief Kyle Gibbs report the three remaining exterior doors will be replaced on the fire hall this year as part of a 3-year project costing about $13,000.

— Unanimously approved the annual sidewalk, curb and gutter replacement bid of $27,069 from DC Crete.

— Heard a preliminary plan to mill and resurface the intersection of U.S. 8 and Wis. 27 this summer. The projected cost is $30,000 shared equally between the city and county. Gorsegner told the council if this work is not done the city will likely spend this amount in labor and cold mix trying to make patch repairs. He added there if enough funds in the public works budget for the city’s share.

— Unanimously approved a TRH Concrete Services of Holcombe to improve the loading dock at the city-owned Fritz Avenue building west of W. Fifth Street S leased to Rockwell Automation for warehouse space. The apron on the building to the west also will be repaired. City officials want to use Tax Incremental District revenues to remove a landscape stone retaining wall and pour a new footing and wall.

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