Watertown works out temporary agreement to share employee with NYA

The Watertown City Council approved a temporary Utilities Superintendent sharing arrangement with Norwood Young America during its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Norwood Young America’s prime wastewater operator recently informed the city that he would be retiring, so Watertown has agreed to share the services of Utilities Superintendent Doug Kammerer for a period of up to six months.

The basic framework for the sharing model comes from a joint powers agreement that was signed by all the communities in Carver County earlier this year. That agreement provides the general guidelines for sharing resources between communities within the county.

Kammerer is expected to work between 8 and 10 hours per week in Norwood Young America, with that city compensating Watertown $50 per hour, including mileage.

“It’s basically a break even point for us,” Watertown City Administrator Luke Fischer said. “We don’t generate too much additional revenue with that, but it enables us to recoup any costs we may have associated with the sharing.”

While the city does not expect to generate much revenue from the arrangement, Fischer said it would generate enough to fund an intern or temporary position during the term of the agreement. If the workload becomes too much with Kammerer being absent for as many as 10 hours per week, the additional revenue from the sharing would essentially cover a part time employee for those 10 hours, similar to the current water and sewer intern that makes $12 per hour.

“If we get into that position, we’ve found a way that we can staff back up and stay cost neutral,” Fischer explained.

Kammerer said that he has worked under similar arrangements in the past, helping out in one town until it hired a licensed operator. He said he is looking forward to helping Norwood Young America.

“One of my goals is to help out the small communities,” Kammerer told the council. “It’s the reason I’m still here, and it’s the reason I’d like to help Norwood.”

Street Updates
Preliminary work on Streets A and B in the new Community Park site are already under way, and other road projects are set to begin soon in Watertown.

The contractor has started some initial work related to the park’s streets, most notably the removal of trees along the route and other erosion control items. Later last week, work was scheduled to pick up even more with the stripping of topsoil and other projects.

Elsewhere in the city, Madison Street and Hunter Drive were scheduled to be the first streets torn up and reconstructed. The work was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Work on Sugarbush Trail and Dutchmans Way is set to begin Sept. 19, and Hutchinson Road will being Oct. 5. The last project will be Jackson Avenue, beginning Oct. 23. All the projects are expected to take about two and half weeks from beginning to end.

The city plans to keep people informed throughout the projects with several strategies. In addition to sending a mail update to all impacted property owners, the city intends to keep residents informed via Facebook, Twitter and its own Web site.

The city plans to post weekly blog updates at www.ci.watertown.mn.us/news, where it will keep residents informed on both the park and street projects. The city will also update is Twitter account, www.twitter.com/cityofwatertown, with frequent updates throughout the process, and also plans to update its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/cityofwatertown, with updates and pictures in an effort to show residents conditions in the field and challenges encountered along the way.

The Sherburne Wright Cable Commission also plans to make a film during the project that illustrates everything that goes into building a street.

Downtown Redevelopment
The city council moved forward with plans to close on property associated with Phase II of the private development portion of the Downtown Redevelopment Project. The Phase II land is just to the south of the Phase I land, which is expected to house a new senior housing facility to be operated by Prairie River Home Nursing.

The city has grant funding from the Metropolitan Council to fund the acquisition of Phase II property in the amount of $187,686.26, as per the purchase agreement. In order to proceed with the closing before a development agreement is entered into, the expected developer, Rice Lake Development, needed to enter into several agreements with the city, including an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement. Fischer told the council he expected the signed paperwork to be returned in time for the planned Sept. 1 closing.

Work toward a development agreement is ongoing. Construction is anticipated to begin this fall, pending an agreement.

In anticipation of construction work beginning soon, the city council approved a change order on work associated with the street portion of the Downtown Redevelopment Project. Only a few items of work — including some curb and gutter work and the final lift of pavement — remain on the Lewis Avenue extension on the south end of downtown, work that was expected to begin this fall. However, City Engineer Dave Martini of Bolton and Menk recommended holding off on that work until 2013 so as to avoid damage from the anticipated construction.

The council unanimously approved his recommendation.