The Granite Falls City Council is optimistic that it will get to award the project to a contractor as early as next month.

It’s been a long time coming, but on Monday Granite Falls City Council members finally were able to call for bids to replace the community’s iconic connection between its east and west side riverbank.
“Can you believe it?,” Mayor Dave Smiglewski jokingly asked––referencing a number of bureaucratic lulls that have slowed the renovation of Granite Falls pedestrian bridge.
After receiving a state bonding appropriation in 2010 for half of the estimated $1.024 million required to rehabilitate the city’s pedestrian bridge, the city was informed it had been appropriated a matching $512,000 grant through the federally funded National Scenic Byway Program (NSBP) in August of 2012.
Language in the bonding bill stipulated that matching funds needed to be in place before the project was to proceed, and that any supplementary funding had to come from a source other than the state of Minnesota. Fortunately, the Granite Falls project was selected by Scenic Byway Program as one of the 125 projects nationwide––one of six within the state of Minnesota––to receive an appropriation out of a total 261 applications across the country.
In recent decades the piers of the bridge have leaned further and further to the west –– though cables were attached following the 2001 flood to help slow that progression. Planned repairs include work to the bridge’s piers, the raising of the east end of the bridge to minimize the high water impact, sandblasting the steel, replacing the concrete decking and repainting the entire structure as well as other improvements, including the lighting of the bridge.
Included in the resolution calling for a bids was a contingency awaiting final, imminent authorization from the DNR. Once this is received, bids can be posted with the awarding likely in June and a potential start date in July. Most likely the project will overflow into 2015 before it is completed.

In other news:
•Following the second reading and subsequent adoption of both a related Licensing and Zoning Ordinance, downtown Granite Falls will now have the necessary policy and procedure in place for the development of a brew pub or craft brewery. Planned local cooperative brewery, “The Bluenose Gopher” is still about a year away from being up an running.
•An informational report from Cheryl Glaeser, representing the Southwest Minnesota Initiative Foundation, (SWIF) informed council members of the foundation’s goal to capture five percent of funds expected to be transferred between generations within the county over the next 25 years. In Yellow Medicine, five percent of the expected $25.5 million amount to $1.2.
Glaeser also noted that each dollar the city has invested into the foundation has generated $28 of return.
•With the lone bid to carry out the city’s Diseased Elm Tree Removal Program, council members approved Brian’s Tree Service, Cottonwood, to conduct associated tree removal and stump grinding services at a rate of $15.59 and $5.59 per inch, respectively.
•The city awarded a bid to POET Ethanol Products, of Lake Crystal, for liquid carbon dioxide delivery services at a rate of $132 per ton. The previous contractor provided services at a cost of $98 per hour. The cost of providing the service in 2013 was approximately $6.400.
•A new three year contract that retroactively went into effect January 1, 2014 thru December 31 2016 has been agreed upon following negotiations between the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE) and City’s Wage and Salary Committee. The contract provides a 2.5 per cent raise annually over the contract’s three year life, amidst other minor changes.
•The Council also approved a new three year contract for City Clerk Joan Taylor that featured identical terms to the aforementioned contract.
 •Recent tax forfeited property auctions brought two separate requests from Donald and Jamie Peters and Doug Fluto  that the city waive previous unpaid assessments on properties at 1701 9th Ave and 215th 9th Ave.
Tabling the decision to a later date, city staff was directed to draw up an agreement that would serve to help guarantee site development in exchange for the waiver.