Abby looks at 4th Avenue project for next year
Fourth Avenue just south of Pine Street was identified Monday as the next spot for a road project in Abbotsford.
DPW Craig Stuttgen spoke to the city’s planning commission about using available TIF money next year to resurface the two blocks of Fourth Avenue that run east of the high school football field.
The road currently consists of a concrete surface running down the center, with strips of asphalt on either side, creating lips that make it difficult for both vehicles and pedestrians to travel on.
Stuttgen said he would like to rip the asphalt and curb and gutter out, mill the concrete, do some storm sewer repairs, and finish with a new asphalt overlay.
The work would eliminate some gaps between the roadway and the gutters along that stretch, he said.
“When you put asphalt next to curb and gutter, they never settle the same,” he said. “Then there was a water break up there, which made the issues worse.”
Stuttgen said he plans on getting an estimated cost per foot for the work, and then letting the commission and city council decide how much area they want to cover next year.
The project would be paid for using tax-incremental financing (TIF), which is generated by the property taxes on new developments, such as the new Northside Apartments.
City administrator Dan Grady said the city’s TIF fund will take in $850,000 next year, and there should be $450,000 left over after the city makes payments on two loans it took out for previous projects and pays for park improvements.
Grady said the city should consider saving at least some of the TIF money for projects in following years or to pay down debt.
In the following year, 2022, Grady said the TIF should have close over $1 million in revenue to spend.
Stuttgen believes the city can resurface the two blocks of Fourth Avenue between Pine and Hickory streets for about $150,000 to $200,000 next year, with the eventual goal of fixing the road all the way down to West Spruce Street.
A more precise cost estimate per block will be available by the Oct. 5 city council meeting, Stuttgen noted.
Looking ahead, Stuttgen said it’s difficult to say what other projects may come up, based on what potential developers may propose to the city.
“A five-year plan for a TIF is impossible to do because you get a phone call one day, and you just change your plans,” he said. “Every time we answer the phone, it’s someone different looking for something different.”
Fence, park plans in the works
Residents Paul and Nina Writz spoke to the commission about putting up a fence between the new soccer field in the Schilling subdivision and their home on Pine Street.
Paul Writz said the fencing should be sufficiently tall so that “the vast majority of errant balls don’t go onto private property,” which includes theirs and their neighbors south of the field. Another resident on that stretch is also concerned about kids at the adjacent playground trespassing in her yard, he said.
City officials already planned on erecting a fence between the western boundary of the soccer field and Fourth Avenue, and commissioners agreed to extend that fence east along the south end of the soccer field area to protect the neighboring residences.
Stuttgen recommended a painted chain-link fence like the one at Red Arrow Park’s ball field, with a height of six to eight feet, and possibly a drop-down net behind the goals. He agreed to get price estimates and bring them back to the commission at its next meeting.
The goal is to get the fence installed next spring before residents of the nearby Northside Apartments and others are likely to start playing games regularly.
Commissioner Ivone Vazquez said she’s confident Hispanic residents will start using the soccer field regularly once they see the fences go in.
“Right now they drive all the way to Marshfield and Wausau, so if they have something here in town, they will use it for sure every Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she said.
Commissioners also discussed plans to establish a one-mile walking trail around the soccer field and playground area that would also run along portions of Third Avenue, Fourth Avenue and Porcupine Drive.
Stuttgen said his crew would be willing to put down gravel for the path before it’s paved, but he wants it staked out as part of a larger park plan first. He suggested getting an engineering firm to draw up a full plan that also incorporates previously mentioned ideas like a pavilion and a basketball court.
The commission agreed to hold off on making a recommendation until a plan is drawn up.
_ The commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit for Xcel Energy to build a 4,000 square foot garage and a 1,355 square foot office addition at its facility at 500 N. Fifth St. The project, which is expected to get started next spring and finished in the fall, will also include the addition of a drainage flume and a stormwater retention pond.
_ Ald. Dennis Kramer spoke by phone to the commission about improving the city’s downtown by encouraging investors to buy up empty buildings and filling them with a combination of residential rental units and retail stores.
“Easy to say, not so easy to do, but I think it’s a doable,” he said.
Mayor Lori Voss said one concern with Kramer’s plan is the lack of off-street parking in the downtown, especially since it interferes with snow plowing in the winter.
Kramer said providing parking is really an issue for landlords to address, and he thinks there is space to rent for parking spots.
Commission president Mason Rachu questioned what the commission or city council can actually do to support Kramer’s idea.
“I definitely like the idea of Main Street looking nicer, but I don’t know what we can do about privately owned buildings,” he said.
Commissioner Jim Jakel also noted that business development has moved out of downtown over the years.
“Abbotsford’s Main Street is Highway 13,” he said.
Kramer said he would bring more information to the commission in the future, with the hope of keeping the conversation going. “If you don’t start the discussion and start a plan to do something, you’re never going to get there,” he said.