Capital Project Update
For the past two years council has been working on a large capital project. The sole purpose of this project is to improve Ely’s infrastructure. Below is a summary of the details for this project.
What does this project include?
- Resurfacing State Street from Rock Island Drive to Merryhill Lane and improving drainage along State Street.
- Reconstruct Vavra Drive including curb and gutter to improve drainage.
- Add sidewalks along State Street and Vavra Drive.
- Up-size the old water main along State Street.
- Add off-street parking for Vavra Park and ADA compliant access into the park.
- Extend water main north of town to connect current residents and allow for future growth.
- Extend sewer trunk north of town to connect current residents and allow for future growth.
- Improve storm sewer on Rowley Street to minimize flash flooding.
- Build a 50-space parking lot to the east of City Hall via donated land from St John Lutheran and utilizing a state grant to pay a large portion of the project.
When does this start? Council approved the first phase of the project in March which includes State Street and Vavra Drive. This portion has already started and will be completed by the end of the summer. The next phases of the North Water Main and Sewer Trunk Extension are still going through the bidding process and will likely start later this year into 2020. There is an informational meeting on the Water Main Extension Project Monday, April 22nd, at 7pm at City Hall.
How are we going to pay for it? The entire project outside of the Sewer Trunk Addition will be paid via General Obligation Debt which is paid back via local taxes. City taxes will see an increase of $2.35 for a total of $10.81 starting FY20. Because the city will be taking advantage of the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) the Sewer Addition must be paid via sewer rate revenues. Starting this summer there will be a stepped increase in sewer rates that, over the next few years, will increase the average sewer bill $10-$15/month from where it is now. Council is also working on tapping fees for new development directly affected by these improvements that will help to reduce the debt as well. HEREis a link to the Capital Project Cost Breakdown.
On a personal note: I realize this is a lot of information to take in and an increase in taxes and rates are not what anyone wants, however, continuing to ignore the need for improvements in our town is not an option as well. We have all driven on State Street and know its condition. For those who live on Vavra Drive, you have been incredibly patient living on a road that has needed attention for the past 25 years or more. The water main along State Street is only 4″ diameter in certain areas, the state required minimum is 8″. Residents walking on the road, or in the ditch, along State Street to get to downtown is less than ideal. If you ever drive on Rowley Street in front of City Hall, you have seen this road blocked off due to flash flooding. If you have attended any event in Ely, you realize the need for additional parking and it’s hard to turn down that opportunity with donated land and a grant from the state. Finally, we all want new businesses to serve our growing town. The city is very limited in commercial property options and extending services to the north will open up development which will include new commercial opportunities along State Street.
If you have questions on these projects, I strongly urge you to talk with a council member, city staff or myself. HERE is a link to our contact info. We have all been involved in this project over the past two years and will gladly answer any questions you have.