Watertown sets open forum on intersection for April 18

The Watertown City Council has scheduled a public input open house for Thursday, April 18, from 5:30-7 p.m. to hear feedback from area residents regarding potential re-designs for the intersection at Territorial Street and Lewis Avenue.

The intersection is expected to be rebuilt in 2014 in conjunction with the related bridge reconstruction in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion on the bridge and at the intersection during peak hours in the morning and afternoon. The city has received $350,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Local Road Improvement Fund to aid in the project.

While the most likely scenarios include either constructing a roundabout or making the intersection a two-way stop with traffic stopping on Lewis Avenue only, the city council has not made any final decisions on the alignment. The city hopes to hear feedback from residents, who may stop in at any time during the 90-minute open house. There is no specific start time, as the meeting is designed to allow council members and city staff to informally visit with residents on a 1-on-1 basis to gain a better understanding of the public’s desires.

In addition to verbal feedback, the city will also have response cards available at the meeting, and for those who can’t attend, the city welcomes e-mail or traditional mail feedback as well.

General background information on the project is available on the agendas portion of the city’s Web site. City administrator Luke Fischer also said that more specific information on each possible proposal will also be posted as the open house nears.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll add more information about the intersection alignment alternatives so there is an opportunity to go out and consume some of that information before the open house,” Fischer said. “At the open house, we will have project engineers as well as the mayor and the council, and some of the city staff.”


In other business:

• The city council scheduled a public hearing as part of the regularly scheduled May 14 city council meeting to discuss proposed changes to the city’s new TIF District related to the upcoming senior assisted living facility project.

The Watertown Economic Development Authority has recommended extending the TIF District by two years. Such a change would make up for the first two years of TIF financing that the developer has already lost out on because of project delays.

Altering the length of the TIF district would not change the amount of incentive in the total package, but would simply make those first two years of funding available to the developer once again.

“By taking this action, we help them capture some of that (funding), and create a little bit of incentive to actually get some shovels in the ground sooner, and it also helps us out toward the end of the district so we can capture some of our revenue back as well” said city council member Steve Washburn, who is part of the EDA.

• The council approved the shutoff of utilities for a number of delinquent accounts in the city. Fischer said all accounts overdue by a month or more received several notices in March, and the city has thus far reduced it’s total delinquent amount from $19,000 to $14,000. All properties scheduled for shutoff will receive one final notice of the imminence of the shutoff and have the opportunity to pay cash at city hall. Any property where utilities are shut off will be charged a $150 disconnection fee and another $150 fee to reconnect.

• The council formally approved its set of missions, visions and goals that were developed during a retreat earlier this year. More information on what is contained in those documents can be found on the city Web site.


Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]