Support exists for 13th Avenue project

Members of the Princeton City Council wanted to know what residents on the north end of 13th Avenue thought about a proposal to reconstruct their street as part of a Public Utilities Commission project to replace water mains.

Specifically, councilors where curious about what improvements residents were interested in and how much of a bill they were willing to foot. That included a rebuild of 13th Avenue with a widening of 13th Avenue complete with curb and gutter or returning it to its current state with minor resurfacing and no curb and gutter.

The PUC has plans to improve water pressure and water flow with a project that will involve increasing the size of water pipes under the street and looping the water lines toward the east, possibly connecting with the main water system in the vicinity of Third Street North and Rum River Drive. This would give the city an opportunity to do street upgrades on 13th Avenue North. Sewer lines could also be found to need replacing.

Another factor at play is the fact that the Minnesota Department of Transportation envisions cutting off access to Highway 95 from West Branch Street in the future because it is too close to the on- and off-ramps on the east side of the interchange of highways 169 and 95. MnDOT sees 13th Avenue as a viable alternative for bringing northbound traffic onto Highway 95.

A handful of residents attended the March 13 meeting, and four residents spoke before the council. They all supported the future reconstruction of 13th Avenue, albeit with some reservations.

J. Hancuch, who attended the meeting with his wife Kris, handed out to the council members a two-page letter in which he supported a feasibility study and cost analysis of the project so the cost and benefits of all construction options can be compared. The Hancuchs also called for delaying the project until Princeton reaches 5,000 residents, at which time the city would potentially be eligible for state aid funding. This could cut down on the amount 13th Avenue residents would be assessed for the project, which would also decrease their financial burden.

J. Hancuch told council members he supports the installation of curb and gutter, noting that each spring his lawn is damaged from snow plowing. His yard is also driven and parked on during high-profile events, such as the weekly races and county fair.

The Hancuchs, however, did not support the installation of sidewalks at this time.

J. Hancuch also supported the closing of West Branch Street where it connects with Highway 95. But instead of opening up 13th Avenue to access Highway 95, he recommended using 21st Avenue (the north-south street west of Walmart) as the city’s major connection to Highway 95.

Three other residents, Dale Dunham, Dick Reckinger and Brian Dorr, appeared before the council.

Dunham talked about poor water pressure at his home and supported the PUC’s water looping project. He also favored curb and gutter, but like Hancuch, did not support the installation of sidewalks. Reckinger also told councilors that he was not in favor of sidewalks.

Dorr spoke out against widening 13th Avenue because of the traffic and high vehicle speeds it would bring to what he considers a quiet neighborhood.

The Princeton City Council will discuss the issue further at its April 10 study session after collecting more information regarding the project and having further discussions with residents along 13th Avenue.

In other council news:

• The City Council received a letter from the Princeton School District commending Police Office Eric Minks for the job he does as a School Board member.

• The city, through its grant program from liquor store proceeds, will give the Princeton Lions Club $100 in gift certificates for the organization’s spring raffle.

• The city will complete the last of four erosion control projects it was doing as part of a phosphorus abatement program tied to the new wastewater treatment plant. The project was delayed because the property was transferred to another owner.