Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hurley City Council to pursue highway utilities project


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Hurley — The Hurley City Council on Wednesday approved a recommendation from the public works department to inform the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that the city intends to conduct preliminary work ahead of a planned highway reconstruction.

Jeff Seamandel, a project manager with MSA, the city’s engineering consulting firm, said WDOT is planning a U.S. 51 reconstruction project in 2023 that will include the 2nd Avenue section through Hurley. If Hurley would conduct a utility replacement prior to the project on U.S. 51, between Iron Street and Florian Street, then WDOT would push its project to 2026.

The additional time would allow the city to apply for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through the Department of Administration. The utilities replacement project cost is estimated at $2,568,909.

“The sewer and water are in bad shape,” Seamandel said of the under-the-highway infrastructure. “The DOT is asking for a letter by the end of month to ask if the city wants to do the utilities.”

The downside is that the WDOT must keep its schedule either 2023 or 2026 which might mean that the city would need to pave the section only to have the WDOT tear it up for complete resurfacing in a subsequent year. If the city does not conduct the utilities work the WDOT will back charge the city for any repairs it finds necessary, he said.

There is no guarantee that the funding will be available but the WDOT was encouraging that the project is necessary for the highway project, he said.

The council approved the letter of intent to the WDOT by a 4-0 margin. Alderwoman Stephanie Innes-Smith was not present.

Gary Laguna, the Hurley water manager, said he is looking at the possibility of transitioning the city from an automatic meter reading system (AMR) to an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system. The Public Service Commission is currently reviewing the proposal and if recommended the next step is to notify funding sources of the city intent to apply for grants.

The current AMR system involves a city employee reading every meter directly. The AMI system allows the employee to do electronic readings via a network linking the utility system and various metering points.

“These are the newest style meters and there are many benefits,” Laguna said. “We are just exploring the opportunity and we feel it would be a very, very good fit for the city.”

The board approved a higher than starting level salary for a new administrative assistant with the Hurley Police Department. The action was recommended by the Police, Fire and License committee which interviewed six candidates, and the finance committee, based on the advanced experience of the selected candidate.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Mayor Jay Aijala said the city was contacted by Northern Iron County Engaged Residents (NICER) regarding its annual “Spook Trail” Halloween event that is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24. The city usually donates $100 to the event and the council members agreed without taking action as it was not an agenda item.

In other business, the council approved:

—A conditional use permit application for a storage building at Silver Street Motel.

—Four bartenders licenses.

—A class B beer and liquor license for Northwoods TNT, LLC, Tales N Trails, 19 Silver Street.

—An adult entertainment license for Northwoods TNT, LLC, Tales N Trails, 19 Silver Street.

—Convening in closed session to confer with counsel regarding pending litigation with no action taken upon returning to the regular meeting.

—A $2,668 bid to Action Floors to replace the floor of the meeting room.

—Filing a simplified rate Increase with the Public Service Commission.

—Received a $100.000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant as a reimbursement for the street sweeper purchase.