Capital projects outlined for next 5 years

Posted 9/1/21

Fire station not one of them RIVER FALLS – The River Falls City Council approved the city’s Capital Improvement Plan for 2022-2026 at its Aug. 24 meeting. The CIP will fund vehicles, equipment …

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Capital projects outlined for next 5 years


Fire station not one of them

RIVER FALLS – The River Falls City Council approved the city’s Capital Improvement Plan for 2022-2026 at its Aug. 24 meeting. The CIP will fund vehicles, equipment and projects over the next five years for a total of $52,753,800.

The CIP includes projects that are either in development or planned to be implemented within the next five years. The fiveyear CIP is updated biennially, along with the two-year budget preparation. It follows the city’s long-range fiscal plan and could be changed by the city council, availability of funding and abilities to manage projects. City department managers and the city administrator recommended the projects included in the CIP based on needs relevant to ongoing operations.

Notable project requests include: City buildings: Includes updates and enhancements to city buildings, such as lighting upgrades in the Public Works facility and City Hall, upgrades and HVAC components replacements in city facilities, and future space needs assessments. An anticipated new fire station is in the 10-year plan, but not the five-year.

Parks: Improvements to the following parks: Knollwood, Sterling Ponds, Wells, DeSanctis, Collins and Glen. The CIP also includes projects to replace the Lake George fishing pier, install river access in Heritage Park and annual replacements of playground equipment at neighborhood parks.

Economic development: Planning and development for the infrastructure necessary to develop Mann Valley Corporate Park begins in 2022; construction starts in 2023. In 2017, the Community Development Department led a planning effort with Guide Studio to prepare a “community signage and wayfinding master plan.” The plan includes design specifications for directional signs, gateway signs, corporate park signs, city building and facility signs and trail signs. Implementing these upgrades will be spread out over the next five years; funding comes from a variety of sources, such as the tax levy, park impact fees, solid waste, sewer, TIDs, BID and the chamber. Also included is funding for property acquisition along the Kinnickinnic as part of the Kinnickinnic Corridor Plan.

Utility projects: The FERC hydro relicensing and dam removal ($1,394,500), north interceptor sewer rerouting and rehabilitation project ($2,462,000), north zone water tower ($2,050,000), north loop water main extension ($2,806,000), County RoadMMfeeder project ($900,000), and funds for building a new or update the current wastewater treatment plant.

Transportation: Reconstruction of South Wasson Lane from Cascade Avenue to Cemetery Road ($3,900,500), Powell Avenue bridge deck replacement ($900,000), and extension of Foster Street from South Main Street to Sycamore Street ($333,000).

Vehicle replacement plan: Two police department vehicles in 2022 ($90,000), Kubota M8560 front end loader in 2023 ($150,000), tractor backhoe replacement in 2023 ($110,000), backyard bucket machine in 2024 ($175,000), Tymco street sweeper in 2024 ($225,000), tandem axle hook truck in 2025 ($225,000), and Freightliner bucket/digger in 2026 ($275,000).

The 2022-2026 funding sources include Tax Increment District (22 percent), tax levy (3 percent), alternative sources (10 percent), utility user fees (26 percent), borrowing (32 percent) and state funding (7 percent).

The user-based fees portion (26 percent) includes electric, water, wastewater and storm water fees. The proposed tax levy for projects is $1,559,050 or 3 percent of the total CIP.

The major projects such as the infrastructure development in Mann Valley, wastewater facility infrastructure improvements and the north interceptor rerouting and rehabilitation will have a significant impact on the city’s long-term financing and budgeting, a city memo states.

Notable projects excluded from this CIP due to limited available funds include:

•Glen Park pool replacement and master plan improvements

•Fire station design and construction

•Downtown alley upgrades

•Hoffman Park master plan improvements

•Additional dog park(s)

•Major downtown improvements Alderperson Sean Downing questioned why the new fire stations blueprints were excluded; City Administrator Scot Simpson answered that it boiled down to prioritization.

Downing said he believes perhaps federal funds should be used for the fire station and proposed another idea: Creating a new Tax Increment District 23 in the downtown area.

“Our fire department is waiting for help in getting a plan started,” Downing said. “The more we spend on keeping the current building that has ceiling problems, the more we lose out not just on that building, but that potential TID being there brining money back to our tax rolls in the city.”

Downing described repurposing that site as workforce housing that would pay for itself. He questioned the feasibility of combining the idea with major downtown improvements in the CIP.

“It would take a lot for staff to pivot to a new fire station and redevelopment project unless a ‘too good to be true offer’ comes along with full, 100 percent funding,” Simpson said.

Downtown improvements will likely not occur until 20282030, Assistant City Administrator Jason Stroud said.

Simpson said funding is not the only consideration when prioritizing CIP projects. Also taken into account are staff capacity, grant cycles, community capacity and engagement fatigue. The city wants the public to participate and if too much is going on at once, participation wanes.

Also voted on

The council approved the following (Mayor Dan Toland was not present):

•A resolution approving vacating portions of East Park and Sycamore streets in the A.F. Hart’s Addition in preparation for a proposed senior living and memory care facility by Frisbie Architects.

•A resolution requesting application for exemption from county library tax.

•A resolution approving the release of a utility easement located in Blocks 2 and 3 of A.F. Hart’s Addition (600 and 700 S. Main St.)

•A resolution creating TID No. 18, approving its project plan and establishing its boundaries, a 3.24-acre parcel bound by housing developments to the north, Main Street to the west, Broadway Street to the south and housing to the east. The district will be created to pay the costs of development incentives for the 700 S. Main St. project and additional infrastructure within a half-mile of the TID. The city anticipates spending $6,770,000 on development incentives, property acquisition, bridge maintenance, street and alley reconstruction, traffic signal and/or roundabout, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and future park and/or Kinnickinnic Corridor Plan projects. The city projects that $15 million in new values will result from the improvements.

•A resolution approving a Specific Implementation Plan for 700 S. Main St. (senior living and memory care facility with 84 senior living units).

•A resolution approving the developer’s agreement for 700 S. Main St.