Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hurley looks to widen Range View Drive


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Hurley — The Hurley City Council on Monday heard more updates on the proposed Range View Drive project that could see nearly half of costs reimbursed through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Local Supplement program.

Hurley Street Commissioner Scott Santini, and Jeff Seamandel, a project engineer with MSA Professional Services, the city’s engineering company, were present to update the board on progress to rebuild and widen Range View Drive from 10th Avenue to the west side of the main entrance to Hurley Public School.

The WDOT recently sent the city a letter stating that $450,000 in funding, or 48% of the overall $935,000 of project costs would be available as reimbursement. The city would be responsible for the remaining $485,000.

WDOT would require the project to be completed within five years but that could possibly be four years if the calendar started with the summer grant cycle.

The work is a traffic safety priority to widen the only road access to Hurley K-12 School, where multiple buses and cars navigate a narrow road that is also a designated all-terrain vehicle route, he said.

The municipal agreement would include design and construction engineering costs to widen the 21-foot wide road to 28 feet, he said. 

The project would require complete reconstruction of the section of road, Seamandel said. It would require replacing 100 feet of culvert near a creek, a new sand layer, gravel layer, and 4 inches of asphalt.

“We don’t really know what’s underneath it,” Seamande said of the road subsurface.

Alderwoman Stephanie Innes-Smith asked if the project would require permitting and possible additional costs from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Seamandel said that nothing is yet approved by the WDNR and that part of the design process would include a wetland delineation. 

“There will be a wetland impact for sure,” Seamandel said. “Assuming the DNR will grant you (the city) permission to fill in those wetlands to widen the road. But none of that has been discussed with them at this time.”

The south side of the road from 10th Avenue to the creek for sure are wetlands, he said. 

Santini said that an alternative could involve shifting the road to the north to compensate for any concerns of the WDNR. This would also present challenges in order to maintain a straight road with the limited space that is available to those properties.

Financing the project could include multiple sources of funding to include other local units of government who are stakeholders with the road, he said. The city could also request a one year extension of the city’s tax increment district from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, which could be used for a number of affordable housing related projects that reduces the tax burden to homeowners to include street and sidewalk replacement.

“That is something I encourage you to do,” Seamandel said. “You would need to pass a resolution after next April, saying that the city wants to extend for a year and use the tax increment for affordable housing projects.”

The presentation moved on to the Private Lead Service Line Replacement Program, a project under the Safe Drinking Water Loan program available through the state, which provides 100% forgiveness to local residents who need to replace lead or galvanized metal water lines on private property up to the city hook-up valve. Galvanized water lines must have been downstream from a lead fitting at some point to qualify.

Cities and towns with populations of 3,300 or less are eligible for $5,000 to offset engineering and administration costs related to the grant.

“There are 150 residential lines that would qualify for this replacement program,” Santini said. “This benefits our residents.”

Santini said it would not be possible to work on more than 30 to 40 home water lines per construction season. This is why it’s important to apply early in order to get cost estimates from contractors and certified plumbers and start prioritizing projects.

No action was taken by the board. Santini said he would gather information in order for the city to apply for the program in February to be able to start work in the summer construction season.

The council 4-0 approved a recommendation from the finance committee to renew the city’s auditing services with Wipfli, LLP. The $18,900 auditing contract is a $900 increase over 2019, according to Joanne Bruneau, finance committee chair.

Representatives from Wipfli were not able to present the city’s completed audit at this time due to COVID-19 restrictions in place, Bruneau said. The firm will provide a representative to go over the audit when it will be possible.

In the finance committee report, Bruneau said there may be additional Routes to Recovery reimbursements through the state of Wisconsin. The funds would be available from municipalities that have not used them, she said.

The city of Hurley submitted a total of $34,000 in COVID-19 related city expenditures for reimbursement, she said. The city was allotted approximately $24,000 for reimbursements in the program and has so far been reimbursed for $5,000 in claims, she said.

The city submitted a water rate application to the state Public Service Commission on Dec. 4, Bruneau said. The application is a requirement in order to request an increase to the city’s water rate. 

Alderman Steve Lombardo, who officiated in the absence of Mayor Jay Aijala, said he wanted to acknowledge the work of the Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce, partnering organizations and all the volunteers who took part in the reverse-Christmas parade that was held Saturday. He said it was a nice event that was supported by the Hurley police and fire departments.

“This year, obviously, there are a lot of activities that are going to have to be done a little bit differently and it forces us to think a little more creatively,” Lombardo said. “I appreciate the chamber’s efforts to not just postpone it but to do it differently so everybody can still participate.”

In other business, the city council approved recommendations of the Police Fire and License Committee for:

—Two bartender license applications.

—A combination class B beer and liquor license to Buccanero Properties, LLC, 322 Silver St, doing business as Iron Horse Saloon with Rose Buccanero as agent.

—A restaurant license to Iron Horse Saloon, 322 Silver St.

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