Watertown council discuses options for sidewalk, trails as part of bridge project

The Watertown City Council chose its preferred option for trails and sidewalks over and leading up to the proposed new Territorial Street bridge during its June 25 meeting.

The city’s preferred option was sought by Carver County, which is in the process of developing the geometric layout for the bridge and intersection. The city’s choice will include a six-foot sidewalk over the south side of the bridge and an eight-foot trail bounded by a two-foot buffer zone on each side over the north side of the bridge.

The eight foot trail along the north side of Territorial Street will pick up where a current trail — running along County Road 20 — ends near the roundabout. The trail will continue west along Territorial Street and over the bridge toward Lewis Avenue.

The south side of the road would include an eight-foot trail as well, but only from the County Rd. 20 roundabout to Mill Avenue. At that point, a six-foot sidewalk would continue up to and over the bridge, toward Lewis Avenue. Because County Road 10 is a State Aid roadway, any trail or walk extended up to the bridge must also carry over the bridge to meet state aid requirements. That’s why the council prefers the south side trail to stop at and connect with existing trails along Mill Avenue, and not carry all the way up to the bridge.

The city council has already previously selected a new bridge and roadway with a continuous center turn lane from the roundabout at County Road 20 to what will be a new roundabout at the intersection of Territorial Street and Lewis Avenue. The city has received $350,000 in state funding to aid with that intersection portion of the project.

 

In other business:

• The council heard a report from Clifton Larson Allen, which issued the city a clean audit of its financial statements, the best opinion that can offered. The company did, however, note several weaknesses in the city’s financial process, mostly centered on the lack of segregation of job duties within the city. Those weaknesses included the city’s financial reporting process, adjusting journal entries, capital asset coding and review, and daily deposit tracking and review.  However, those issues are typical of small city governments that typically have relatively few staffers.

“It’s a cost benefit decision they city council has to make as far as whether you employ people to adequately segregate all job functions or even put together a gap compliant financial statement,” Clifton Larson Allen’s Dennis Hoogeveen told the council. “It is very common in a small city environment to rely on your auditors to help you do that, but it is reported as an internal control weakness, but a very common and well-accepted practice among governmental agencies.”

Other items of note from the audit included all utility funds ending the year with a positive cash balance, overall governmental expenditures down 5 percent from the year before, and overall governmental revenues up 13 percent from the year before.

• The council approved a conditional use permit for the Adult Training and Habilitation Center in the city’s industrial park. The permit will allow ATHC to store used tires and scrap metal outside the facility, and to install an outdoor trash compactor on the south side of the building. The outdoor storage space, which will allow ATHC to free up indoor space by moving some its largest items outdoors, must be screened by an eight-foot fence, and also by some new evergreen trees the city is requiring.

• The council denied a request from the owner of the home at 800 Angel Ave. SW to waive the requirement that she connect to city utilities. The home was annexed into the city in 2008, but for unknown reasons, was not connected to city utilities at that time, as it should have been. The owner of the home has indicated that she plans to tear it down and build a new home, which will require rezoning from Agricultural to low-density residential. According to city code, when this type of rezoning occurs, the property must connect to city utilities, which the council ultimately upheld.

Contact Matt Bunke at matt.bunke@ecm-inc.com

 
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