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City eyes lot for new park

City eyes lot for new park City eyes lot for new park

Council considers hiring firm to help redevelop former laundromat lot

The city of Medford is looking to pay a firm $25,000 to come up with plans for the development of a new park space in the downtown.

At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, aldermen voted to recommend hiring Graef-USA, Inc. of Minneapolis to provide a park planning and design proposal for the site of the former laundromat building that was torn down as part of the State Street bridge replacement project. The city had purchased and demolished the .21 acre parcel as part of the bridge project with the intention of developing it into greenspace along the Black River.

According to Harris, the project will include the creation of a local committee that will include the mayor, a council member, the city coordinator, a member of the Friends of the Downtown and a city resident residing in the downtown area. According to Harris, Graef-USA will work with the committee to come up with a plan in the first phase. The second phase will involve design development, preliminary engineering, and preparation of construction documents and specifi cations. The cost will be approximately 10% of the approved construction budget based on the approved plan and associated features. The final design plan and the associated cost will be submitted to Council for approval.

Harris said the company would also work with the city in applying for grants which would be used for the park development.

“He thought they could do a lot with the spot,” Harris said of having conversations with the firm’s representatives. He said they would look at the whole downtown and see how it would fit in with the plans for it.

Alderman Mike Bub said he liked the concept, but wants to see examples of the firm’s work. He also questioned how this vendor was selected and if they had talked to any other companies.

Harris noted the company already works with the city for geographic information system (GIS) mapping.

Alderman Laura Holmes said she thought $25,000 seemed like a lot of money for the project.

Harris said they are used to dealing with engineering for streets that is at $125,000. “But I know what a street looks like,” Bub replied, again calling for examples of their work. Alderman Greg Knight supported moving forward with the project and hiring the firm. He said it would be like any other project where once they had the plans the city would bid the work out. Holmes agreed with the need to move forward suggesting that one of the things to be included could be a public restroom in the downtown. Harris said that is a consideration, however he said he has another area in mind in the downtown that already has water and sewer stubbed to it. He noted the former building on the site had never been connected to the city sewer system.

Utility improvements

Aldermen recommended continuing with ongoing upgrades at the Medford wastewater treatment facility with the installation of fine air diffusers for the aeration basin at the plant at a cost of $56,000.

The equipment will aid in the processing of the waste as air is forced into the wastewater. According to wastewater superintendent Ben Brooks, the 60 EDI fine air diffusers will use about half as much air as the current coarse air system in place.

Brooks said that while there will be a long-term benefit of the change, the city will likely not see it until the overhaul of the plan is completed in 2022 or 2023.

In addition to the aeration equipment, aldermen recommended replacement of the utility’s Jetter truck from MacQueen Equipment at a cost of $429,305. The City will receive $55,000 for trading in the current 2006 Jetter truck bringing the net cost to $374,305.

According to Harris, the truck is used primarily to clear sewer lines but the city has taken advantage of its vacuum function in removing mud and debris from water main breaks allowing for faster repair times. Harris said they decided to stay with the same brand of truck in order to allow for accessories and equipment from the current truck to be transferred to the new one.

Roiger noted the relatively low tradein value and questioned if it would be worthwhile to keep the old one to be used by other city departments.

“We use it a lot, but I don’t think we use it enough to have two,” Harris said. The new truck will be similar to the existing one but due to its weight will be a tandem axle rather than a single-axle as in the past.

Aldermen were also asked to recommend approval of the purchase of a new 3/4-ton truck and plow from Medford Motors for $34,991. The city had also received a quote for the vehicle from Medford Chrysler at $39,955 but went with the less expensive Ford vehicle.

The truck is used for clearing snow in the downtown and alleys and the new one would replace the current truck purchased in 2015.

Alderman Mike Bub questioned why the city was looking at replacing it now. Harris said the truck gets a lot of use, especially in the past few years with heavy snowfalls and has seen better days. He said the goal is to maximize the potential resale value of the vehicle when sold on auction. He anticipated the city being able to sell the existing truck for between $8,000 and $9,000.

In other business, aldermen:

_ Recommended approval of an easement agreement between the city and Todd and Colleen Waldhart and Charles and Linda Gelhaus. The easement would allow a private driveway to be installed off of the intersection of Impala and Malibu Drives in the Rogers Addition. The agreement is part of a larger deal with the property owners to allow access for city utilities. Under the agreement, the property owners will be in charge of installing and maintaining the driveway which will provide access for Gelhaus to develop three parcels that currently do not have road access.

_ Received an update on the Revolving Loan Program. The state is taking the money back from the grantfunded program and rather than administering the existing loans at the state level, is having the city continuing to collect payments and forward them to the state each month. In return, the city can apply for the approximately $300,000 to be used for eligible projects. “We have to be their bank,” said Harris of the need for the city to continue to collet payments.

_ Received the annual report from Tom Mueller of Medford City Baseball for the usage and projects done at the city park baseball fields in the past year. The project to install a new storage garage at the site was put on hold due to a spike in the cost of building materials. Mueller reported on the amount of time put in for maintaining the facility and public restrooms, noting that with COVID-19 the revenues were down this year. “We did our best,” Mueller said, noting game scheduling was sporadic based on where games could be played.

Mayor Mike Wellner presented Virginia Brost with a plaque honoring her 40 years of service to the city of Medford. Brost began working at city hall in 1980 initially as part-time administrative support to the mayor and city administrator. She advanced to become deputy clerk then clerk, a position she held for more than 20 years. She retired from that position at the end of 2020. Brost thanked the city for taking a chance at hiring her years ago and then giving her the opportunity to grow in the position.BRIAN WILSON/THE STAR NEWS