By Chad Koenen


The Ottertail City Council is moving forward with upgrading one of its last remaining gravel roads in the city limits.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday night, the Ottertail City Council directed Bob Schlieman, of Apex Engineering, to complete the preliminary engineering work on Wallenberg Drive. What that final plan will look like is still up in the air. The discussion over potentially upgrading Wallenberg Drive to a bituminous surface came from several property owners on the gravel road.

At the end of Thursday’s meeting, the Ottertail City Council held a public hearing to gather input from residents about the potential road project. One person spoke out against the project, questioning why it was needed, while others offered their support for the project stating the road can became difficult to navigate in the winter months due to the wet and muddy conditions. 

The three proposals being discussed for Wallenberg Drive include: 

Option 1- paving a 20 foot wide road on the area that is currently gravel, which would cost an estimated $165,000. 

Option 2- paving a 20 foot wide road on both the gravel and create a cul de sac drive at the end of the road. This option would include paving the grassy portion of Wallenberg Drive as well. The cost for this project was estimated to be $235,000.

Option 3- paving a 20 foot wide road on both the gravel and grass portion of the road, while also creating a cul de sac drive at the end of the road. The third option would also include extending water mains to the end of the road and installing water service lines to properties along Wallenberg Drive. The estimated cost for this project was $317,000.

Almost all of the project costs would be assessed to property owners based on the city’s assessment policy. The only portion the city would be responsible for would be approximately $49,500. 

If the city approves the project it could be completed sometime next summer. 

One of the biggest questions on Thursday night came when determining whether the adjacent farm land to Wallenberg Drive would also be assessed as part of the project, or whether it would be exempt. The council also asked whether the farmland would eventually be plotted off for housing lots. 

Several property owners in attendance spoke in favor of the first option, which would simply pave the gravel portion of Wallenberg Drive. The city council said it will also reach out to the ag property owner to see what their future plans for the land are moving forward. 

The city council approved moving forward with preliminary work for Wallenberg Drive and will determine which option it will adopt at a later date. 

In other news

• Approved a 2 a.m. liquor license/permit renewal for the Otter Supper Club and Lodge.

• Heard that the Ottertail Fire Department responded to eight medical calls and one grass fire last month. The department also recently completed a helicopter training with Life Link.

• Approved a resolution to adopt assessments to abate charges for a nuisance property located at 121 River View Road for a total of $300. The assessment will be placed on the property’s taxes. 

• Approved a 2 percent increase to water volume rates in Ottertail. 

• Approved the authorization of a snow removal agreement for 2023-24 for Thumper Pond Road. 

• Authorized a contract with Premier Pyrotechnics for the 2024 fireworks show set for August 10 as part of OtterFest and December 7 as part of OtterDazzle.

• Discussed the need for tornado sirens in the community. The city council has discussed installing tornado sirens in the past as a way to inform residents and tourists with impending inclement weather, but where the sirens will be placed and the funding options for paying for the sirens will be discussed at a later date. 

• Approved a $1,061.04 bid from Precision Electric to add an electrical box in the city park to be utilized for community events like the music in the park summer concert series and Christmas lights. Installing the electrical boxes will eliminate the use of extension chords that were needed to provide power in the city park.

• Held an assessment hearing for the South Maple Ave and alley north of the community center. The total cost of the project was $210,688.67, which was almost $21,500 less than originally anticipated. The total assessable cost was $52,966.12, or 25.14 percent of the total cost of the project, while the city picked up the remainder of the tab for the project.