Spencer stretches sewer project to attempt grant funding

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Spencer City Council voted to approve a contract with Kruse, Cate and Nelson for work on the second phase of the Fourth Avenue West storm sewer improvements this week. Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson explained that phase one of the project will address the storm sewers along the avenue between West Seventh Street and West 11th Street. Phase two will cover West 11th Street to West 18th Street. The project will provide sanitary sewer rehabilitation, sidewalk repair and street reconstruction. The city intends to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to fund the second phase of the project. A $600,000 CDBG was awarded to the city for the first phase of the project, which will begin during the 2017 construction season. The second phase is scheduled to begin during the 2019 construction season.

A large portion of phase two falls within Spencer's second ward and Ward 2 Councilman Steve Bomgaars noted that the second phase of the project was originally scheduled for the 2018 construction season. Spencer Finance Director Brian Weuve explained that the city was advised to spread the project out and apply when phase one is nearly complete, in order to make the application competitive.

"To apply for a CDBG, to be (competitive), they want you to basically be 100 percent done with the first project. There's no way to potentially get done with the initial one, get it all tied up, turn around, design, bid and everything and then apply for the CDBG to do something in 2018 for phase two. If we want to be competitive with our grant, they don't want us to have two open applications. So we better be all tied up with the first project, at the grant close-out stage, and let some time elapse before we apply. That is, we did have to put a construction season between phases," Weueve said.

Bomgaars agreed that rescheduling phase two could result in a successful grant application but stressed that residents in the project area have been waiting for storm sewer improvements for some time.

"That will be financially beneficial to the people if we can get that grant. Unfortunately, the people in that area have to wait another year," Bomgaars said.

Spencer City Manager Bob Fagen explained that, though the project would be completed later, the grant would ultimately benefit the tax payers.

"The return is, if we're successful, we don't assess anybody. So, financially, it's a good deal if we can get the money but there's no guarantee, even if we wait," Fagen said.

Bomgaars indicated he agreed.

"Because of that, I think it's a good thing for the people in that area. They've been waiting a long time for some benefit," he said.

Jim Thiesse, with Kruse Cate and Nelson, indicated that the firm would be sending notices out to contractors for the project and that project plans may be available Tuesday.

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