The cities of Medina and Loretto are getting closer to beginning a joint project that is intended to improve water quality in Loretto Creek, located in the vicinity of the Loretto ball fields on County Road 19.
The Medina City Council Tuesday, Aug. 21, approved plans and specifications for the project and authorized the letting of bids for improvements estimated to cost $418,278. Once the bids are opened on Sept. 21, the two cities will have a better handle on costs. The project schedule calls for beginning construction on Oct. 22 and a final completion date of June 14, 2013.
The City Council also approved another resolution that has environmental implications for Loretto and surrounding cities. The resolution asks for a Metropolitan Council study of future sewer interceptor connections for Loretto, Independence, Greenfield, northwest Medina and western Corcoran.
Here are some highlights from the City Council meeting.
The city of Loretto has been waiting to hear when construction will begin on the Loretto Creek project, because the annual Loretto Funfest in September traditionally has taken place at the Loretto ball fields. This year Funfest planners moved events to Railway Street in anticipation of construction at the ball fields.
The project has implications for improving water quality in Lake Sarah because Loretto Creek is in Lake Sarah’s watershed. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has declared Lake Sarah to be an impaired water body and has required cities in the Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed to draft and implement a plan to clean up Lake Sarah. The plan contains many projects, including the Loretto Creek effort to cut down on the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Sarah. Phosphorus acts as a fertilizer for undesirable water plants, such as blue green algae.
Medina and Loretto have been attempting to get the Loretto Creek project off the ground for some time by applying for grants to help them with the costly price tag. At first, grant applications were unsuccessful. Then Medina hired Hakanson Anderson water quality consultants to redesign the project to meet criteria of the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).
This strategy paid off. Earlier this year BWSR awarded the two cities a $334,450 grant that requires Loretto and Medina to chip in 25 percent of total project costs. Loretto’s share is 26 percent of the local portion (approximately $22,000) and Medina’s share is 74 percent (approximately $62,000). The project is designed to prevent 140 pounds of phosphorus from entering Lake Sarah each year. That means that phosphorus removal would cost an estimated $2,987 per pound.
Impaired water quality in another lake, Lake Independence, brought sanitary sewer issues to the forefront in the Medina/Loretto area. The Metropolitan Council has taken over most sanitary sewer services in the west suburban area, but Loretto still has its own wastewater treatment facility. And a plan for improving water quality in Lake Independence calls for Loretto to close its treatment plant and hook up to Met Council sanitary sewers. The Loretto treatment plant is in the Lake Independence watershed.
The problem is that Loretto is miles away from a sanitary sewer interceptor. And where would the connection take place? At the Elm Creek interceptor on Highway 55? In Maple Plain? In Rogers?
Meanwhile, Medina has somehow gotten into the sanitary sewer business by being responsible for sanitary sewer pipes serving Medina, Independence and Greenfield. And the question of sanitary sewers for Loretto looms in the future.
All four cities and Corcoran have been waiting for the Met Council to decide where it will extend its sanitary sewer interceptors and do construction work for lift stations. This information would help the cities plan for future infrastructure.
So the Medina City Council decided to ask the Met Council to end the suspense by “expeditiously” studying potential capital improvements for sanitary sewers and the direction that wastewater should flow in the short-term and long-term. Also, Medina is asking the Met Council to take over responsibility for sanitary sewer pipes serving Medina, Independence and Greenfield.
Steve Scherer, Medina’s public works superintendent, said sanitary sewers are a regional problem. “I don’t see the need for Medina to police this.”
Mayor Tom Crosby commented, “This is a step towards getting us out of the sanitary sewer business.”
The City Council also:
APPROVED a joint powers agreement between the cities of Medina and Orono under which Medina would pay for construction of a trail along Willow Drive. The trail would hookup with a trail in Orono. Each city would be responsible for maintaining parts of the trail located within its boundaries.
APPROVED an agreement with Bonita Kelly under which Medina would close her horseshoe driveway as part of construction of the Willow Drive trail. The city would construct a driveway access elsewhere on the property. Kelly asked the city to preserve 100 year old trees that were planted by her grandfather along Willow Drive and Medina is working with her on the situation.
ACCEPTED the intent of the Hamel Athletic Association to donate $50,000 for the installation of lights at the ball fields in Hamel Legion Park. Medina is waiting to receive a grant for the lighting project before accepting the donation.
APPROVED a preliminary development agreement with U.S. Home Corporation and Eero K. Mattson and Nadejda Piantnitskikh-Mattson for the Enclave at Brockton Lane, a single-family housing development.