City council discusses specifics of new park streets

Since the early conceptual stages of the project, they’ve been referred to only as Street A and Street B. The city of Watertown is hoping those names will be replaced by something a little more catchy or meaningful in the near future.

The Watertown City Council, in a meeting in which the new community park took center stage for a number of items on the agenda, directed city staff to begin the process of finding suitable names for the two streets currently being constructed in the future park on the east side of town. In separate measures, the council also addressed lighting concerns at one of the street’s intersections and amended the donation agreement with the Berg family to relieve the city of its responsibility to construct the streets up to the site of a proposed future housing development.

The Berg family, which donated the land for both the park and the neighboring Peace Lutheran Church construction project, will have input in naming the streets, as per the donation agreement. However, the city will first acquire suggestions from its various boards and commissions, a list it will then take to the Berg’s for input. The expectation is that after the Berg’s narrow the list to those they find suitable, there could be a public input process from Watertown residents.

“The more public input the better,” city councilman Nicholas Hoese said.

The council also addressed concerns regarding lighting at the planned intersection of Street B, the street that runs north and south past the church, with Highway 20. Initial construction plans did not call for any lighting at the intersection, which is not required by the county for new intersections, and is instead left up to the municipality to decide.

However, the city received requests from Peace Lutheran Church to consider lighting at the intersection, something the city and the council took seriously.

“Some light has to be there with pedestrian traffic,” Hoese said during the meeting.

The council considered three options for a light pole at the intersection, ultimately choosing the costliest, but one that will exactly match the light fixtures at the nearby roundabout at Highway 20 and Paul Avenue.  The aluminum pole and base with underground wiring is expected to cost $6,216, and will be owned and maintained by Xcel Energy. The company charges the city a small fee, estimated to be around $7 to $10 per month, to operate the light.

Other options for the council included a fiberglass pole with underground wiring that would not match the nearby poles, but would cost only $3,677. The final option was a wood pole with overhead wiring that would have been at no cost to the city.

The council’s final action regarding the new park site was to amend the donation agreement with the Berg family. Originally, the donation agreement called for the city to extend streets and utilities up to the site of a proposed housing development on the southeast side of the park, which is still in the conceptual phases. However, constructing the streets to that point now would landlock the development and provide less flexibility when building it out.

Therefore, the Bergs relieved the city of its requirement to build those street extensions. Street B, which was to continue past the treeline on the south and curl to the east to meet the development, will now be constructed to the treeline only. Street A, which was to be constructed east past Street B to meet the development, will now end just past Street B.

The changes essentially will be cost neutral for the city. The city will save roughly $144,000 in construction costs, which it will swap with the Bergs for a portion of their assessment costs. The Bergs and the church were to have an assessment of roughly $200,000, which now will be reduced to about $56,000.