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City’s bond request dips to $3.15 million for projects; Acting Living Plan priorities presented

WORTHINGTON -- Bids were opened Monday on the issuance and sale of general obligation funds for the city of Worthington to finance sewer and water extensions in the Bioscience Park.

WORTHINGTON -- Bids were opened Monday on the issuance and sale of general obligation funds for the city of Worthington to finance sewer and water extensions in the Bioscience Park.

Initially, the city had planned to seek $3,475,000 in bonds for the projects, but favorable bidding on the project led to a drop in the request to $3,150,000.

Rebecca Kurtz, of Ehlers & Associates, reported that four bids were received on the bonds, with Baird of Milwaukee, Wis., presenting the low bid of a 2 percent interest rate on the money. Baird was one of four bidders on the bonds.

“We had a rating call before we took the bids,” Kurtz said, noting that Standard & Poors reaffirmed the city’s financial rating of AA-. Part of the reason for the high rating is that the city has 80.5 percent of its debt scheduled to be retired in 10 years.

“It is a testament to your prudence,” she said.

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The city will incur annual debt service of $250,000 on the bonds, but Kurtz said that will be reduced to $140,000 due to the revenue the city receives from assessments.

With council’s awarding of the bid to Baird during its Monday night meeting, Kurtz said the funds will be available to the city Aug. 30.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved on a 4-1 vote the proposed prioritization of an Active Living Plan for Worthington (the plan is posted at ci.worthington.mn.us/worthingtons-active-living-plan) and granted permission for a steering committee to move forward with plans to conduct community meetings. The city council adopted the Active Living Plan last summer, and a steering committee has met since January to prioritize the projects.

The goal of the projects within the plan are to create a more walkable and bikeable community that is safer and more accessible for users.
Kenton Meier, a member of the steering committee, said the plan is recommending 20 infrastructure projects, such as sidewalk and trail construction, crosswalk improvements and street or sidewalk reconfigurations, as well as non-infrastructure projects such as crosswalk and bike lane painting and educational campaigns.

“More people will walk or bike if more safe facilities are available,” Meier said. “We have the trail system and it’s been here for a few years already. I believe that was a huge step -- there are a lot of people out there using it.

“We’ve got a good start, but still more can be done,” he added.

The top priority for the steering committee is addressing safe routes for pedestrians on Oxford Street, U.S. 59 and the I-90 corridor. With the Minnesota Department of Transportation expected to be working on those streets within the next few years, the goal is to also address pedestrian traffic.

City Engineer Dwayne Haffield said state aid money is available for bicycle paths and sidewalks, and there are opportunities for the city to seek trail and other grants as well.

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Meier also spoke to the council about ideas for a Lake Loop project aimed at making the causeway between Lake Okabena and Sunset Bay safer. Included in his presentation were four different concepts -- two of which included one-lane traffic with a walking and biking path; and two other concepts that closed the causeway off to vehicle traffic altogether.

Councilman Larry Janssen said he could not support any of the plans presented for the causeway, and asked if anyone had talked to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about the potential to put a 4-foot-wide wooden structure along the grade for pedestrian traffic.

“There’s a lot of people who use that causeway -- both directions,” he said. “It’s the closest way to work or your retirement home on that side of town.”

  • Approved the recommendation from the city’s nominating committee to appoint the following individuals to the Center for Active Living Committee: Clair Williams (replacing Jeff McNichol), Marcy LaVelle (replacing Twyla Henning) and Nancy Hoftsee (replacing Leon Betz).

  • Approved a lease allowing Minnesota West Community & Technical College’s law enforcement program to use the city’s pistol range for the 2016-2017 school year at a cost of $1,000.

  • Approved the reapportionment of special assessments on the Grand Terrace Addition property.

  • Approved on a 4-1 vote a supplemental agreement on the Grand Avenue extension project of $82,000 due to issues with the roadbed. Janssen voted in opposition to the agreement.

  • Authorized Haffield to seek consulting services for road projects on McMillan Street and Ryan’s Road.

  • Approved, on recommendation from the city’s planning commission, a request from NutriPro Biosystems to install two 20,000 gallon tanks for feed storage on their property at 501 Oxford St. The condition placed on the permit is that the tanks be installed in accordance with the site plan.

  • Approved a request to replat the Oxford Addition, located at the intersection of South Lake Street and West Gateway Drive, into the Merck Addition. Merck will convert the six established lots into one parcel.

  • Approved the second reading of a proposed ordinance opting out of state statute that allows for temporary healthcare dwellings.

  • Approved an application for a parade permit and closure of Fourth Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, and Okabena Street between Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 28 for the United Pentecostal Church to host an outdoor celebration.

  • Approved the closure of Seventh Avenue, from 12th Street to 10th Street, and 10th Street, from 7th Avenue to 2nd Avenue, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Sept. 11 for UFCW Local 1161 to conduct a march.

  • Welcomed Crailsheim Mayor Rudolf Michl, who joined the council for its meeting. Michl said Crailsheim and Worthington are both encountering the same issues with growth and he said he was interested in the city’s topics.

“I’m very happy to be in Worthington a second time,” Michl told the council.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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