During their Tuesday, May 1 meeting, the Clarkfield City Council received an update on the proposed infrastructure plan from Bollig Inc. Bollig is consulting with the city to identify priority construction projects, and has been working in recent weeks to find ways to reduce the proposed cost for street improvements in the city.

The city has identified three primary goals for the project. First, acknowledging that city roads are in serious need of repair, the city will make necessary improvements. Second, when possible, the city will leverage utility funding to lower the cost of the project. Third, the city will take action to lower project costs were possible.

Under the initial proposal, the city would have paid roughly $6.9 million for the cost of the road repairs. Eric Bollig walked the Council through ways that the city could bring down that cost to $2 million (which is still slightly above the $1.5 million target that the Council set at their last meeting).

In addition to cutting some specific projects that Bollig said weren’t as important to achieving the city’s objectives, Bollig also outlined project adjustments that would help bring down the overall price tag. One solution he proposed was reclaiming existing road material for the project. A special machine would grind up the pavement, creating a homogenous material known as class 6 pavement.

This process would would lower the cost of each cubic yard of road pavement form $23 to $7 and would look practically identical to a new covering. The reclamation method allows vehicles of the same tonnage to pass safely and is expected to wear the same. Bollig also said that workers would attempt to keep as much of the original sidewalk as possible to help lower costs further, but conceded that some portions were unsalvageable and would have to go.

The council voted to approve Bollig’s recommendation, in addition to giving the green light for addition topographical surveying of the city. Bollig assured Council members that there would be no liability or cost to the city for the surveys.

In other news:

Mark Roisen of the Living at Home/Block Nursing Program based in Granite Falls joined Executive Director Shari McNamara to share his thoughts about creating a volunteer organization in Clarkfield to assist senior residents. Because the Charter of LAH/BNP only extends to the Granite Falls area, LAH/BNP is not able to serve Clarkfield residents. Roisen listed the many services offered by LAH/BNP. His presentation received a positive reaction from Council members, and Roisen agreed to form a task force to explore the issue further.

Before briefing Council members about the most recent numbers out of the Care Center, McNamara made another request for a line of credit totaling $100,000. She explained that the money would be used as an emergency fund to help float the facility in the event of a funding crisis. Mayor Stringer III expressed his frustration that McNamara chose to begin her presentation with the request, calling it “concerning.” McNamara defended her request, explaining that she was simply following up on a previous conversation topic from a previous report. City Administrator Amanda Luepke weighed in, expressing her discomfort at floating such a large contribution when there was no immediate need for the money. The Council eventually dropped the matter and McNamara moved on to reporting the latest financial and staffing figures.

According to McNamara, occupancy at the Care Center for the month of March was at 73.21%, slightly above their budget benchmarks. There is currently $29,000 in the escrow account set aside by the city. Dietary and maintenance expenses were higher than expected because of increases costs and projects.

The Council also debated possible changes to the flower arrangements along Main Street. Council members said last year’s arrangement failed to deliver, and Luepke floated the idea of installing flags. The cost (roughly $1,500) is what the city currently pays for the annual floral installation, and would be a one time expense. Baskets and banners were also suggested as alternatives, and Council member Fritz asked if companies and civic organizations could sponsor certain installations. The Council did not reach a consensus on the issue, and moved on.

Luepke informed the Council that the LED display board on Main Street had malfunctioned, resulting in the a quarter of the message to not display. Instead of paying $1,160 to have an outside company repair the sign, Council member Jerry Kaupang volunteered to install the necessary component homself, saving the city roughly $1,000.