Cluster boxes coming to Lake Street

By Barbie Porter


A public hearing was held regarding the State Highway 87 project scheduled for 2022. 

Ulteig Engineer Kris Carlson gave a presentation to the Frazee City Council and members of the public who attended the meeting on Monday, June 21.

He explained, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be doing the street work. The city decided it was an opportune time to replace the aging water and sewer lines along Lake Street (from Second Avenue to Main Avenue).  

The costs provided by Carlson stated the water main and sanitary sewer work would cost $852,500.

Carlson said the project area has 27 properties that would be assessed. A lot with 80 feet of frontage along Lake Street would be assessed about $19,000. 

Aiming to reduce the cost, the city applied for a grant from the Public Facilities Authority (PFA). Carlson said nothing had been awarded at the time of the meeting, nor had the city heard any response if they received or were denied the grant.

Carlson reported, in the past the city applied for a PFA grant and received it for other city service line replacement projects. He said the most recent PFA grant awarded to the city paid for 40 percent of the project costs. However, he emphasized every grant application is a case-by-case review, and if the city receives a grant it may cover a different percentage. Grant funds would reduce the cost for taxpayers.

Carlson said both the sewer and water utility lines date back to 1973, and the useful life of the service lines is 40 years. Because the lines met the useful life quota, the service line part of the project will be 100 percent assessed to property owners, which is in accordance with the city’s assessment policy. 

Carlson said the city can pick the length the assessment cost would be spread out, with past projects reaching 20 years. He added the interest rate is typically very low.

The water main is currently a 6-inch pipe. Carlson said the size of the pipe restricts water flow, and some service laterals joints, or the main, may contain lead. The project would replace the 6-inch pipe with 8-inch pipe. The water hydrants would be replaced, as well as the valves and service laterals.

The sewer was stated to be vitrified clay. It has shown pipe sags, cracked and failing pipe, root intrusion, mineral buildup, infiltration and inflow, as well as inadequate pipe slopes, Carlson reported. The new pipe would be 8-inch PVC sewer main and manholes. The work would also include new service laterals.

The service lines leading from the city line to the house can also be replaced, but the cost is the property owner’s responsibility. When interest was expressed in having service lines replaced, Carlson said he would provide a list of interested excavators to residents in the work area.

Street work discussed

The cost of the street reconstruction is being paid for by MnDOT. 

In addition to the street work, the city approved installing a multi-use trail and sidewalk. The cost for that portion of the project was stated to be $784,000. The city was awarded a Transportation Alternatives grant for $475,000, to reduce the city cost of the trail to $309,000.

A resident asked how the street work will be done, if at once or in phases.

Carlson said the street project is being led by MnDOT, but as he understands it, the work will begin near the intersection of Maple Avenue and move south in phases. He said access to property will be maintained, whenever possible. 

A resident asked about the easement that was taken out, and if landowners along the work area had lost property. 

Another resident, who lives along Lake Street, explained the easement was temporary and allowed MnDOT to rent the land for two years. The temporary land rental allowed the state workers to go on the property to do their work. However, the amount of land owned does not change. 

Tom Pace, the MnDOT project manager, was contacted after the public hearing and confirmed the easement is temporary.

Pace fielded a few additional questions during a phone interview on Wednesday, June 23. He was asked:

• Will mailboxes be curb side or clusters, during or after the project?

Pace said MnDOT is working with the post office in Frazee to determine the best side street to place a cluster of boxes. He stated the decision has been made to have several mailboxes in the same location, which will be on a side street. He added the cluster box location will remain in place after the State Highway 87 work is completed.

• Will the fire hydrants remain in the current location?

Pace said all hydrants will be moved out of the pedestrian right-of-way, with most being placed on the back of the sidewalk or next to the curb. 

From the railroad tracks to the school, he said the hydrants will be on the same side they are currently located. From Maple Avenue to Second Avenue the side of the street the hydrant is placed on will vary. 

• When will the trees in the project area come down? 

Pace said the trees will be removed this coming winter, either November or December. He said the removal time coincides with the time that is least disruption to birds and bats that use the trees to nest.

He stated all landowners with trees being removed have been sent two letters, and several he has spoken with as well. Pace added real estate representatives in the area were also made aware of which trees were being removed, in case a property in the work zone is put up for sale.

Pace also stated a public meeting is being planned by MnDOT that will be held in Frazee this summer, likely late July or early August.