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Detroit Lakes City Council approves bid for West Lake Drive Phase Two, construction to begin mid-July

The winning bid for the street and utility project was approved following a public hearing on Tuesday, June 7. Construction may begin as soon as mid-July between County Road 6 and the Pelican River.

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Detroit Lakes property owners and members of the city council listen to a presentation from Jon Pratt, city engineer, during a public hearing concerning property assessments along the West Lake Drive - Phase 2 street and utility project route on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — Road and utility construction along West Lake Drive, between County Road 6 and the Pelican River, may begin as early as mid-July now that the Detroit Lakes City Council has approved a bid for the project. The winning bid was approved following a public hearing on Tuesday, June 7.

Some property owners were startled to learn that the total project cost had increased 50%, from $2.8 million to $4.2 million , since a public hearing on the same project last fall, and that property assessments for residents along the construction route nearly doubled , which triggered the need for the council to hold another assessment hearing on Tuesday.

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Jon Pratt, city engineer for Detroit Lakes, gives a project presentation to property owners and the city council during a public hearing concerning property assessments along the West Lake Drive - Phase 2 street and utility project route on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Jon Pratt, city engineer for Detroit Lakes, presented information about the current project costs and assessments to about 30 residents who attended the hearing.

"The intent tonight, really — rather than past meetings where we've talked about the improvements and which side of the road, and how wide things should be, and all that good stuff — the intent tonight is to talk about the proposed special assessments that are pending for this project," Pratt said at the hearing. "Assessments will be levied against properties starting in 2023, assuming (affected residents) don't pay anything (this year)."

If residents don't pay any of the special assessment up front this year, they will have up to 20 years to pay the assessment in full, with an interest rate of 5.25%, according to city staff.

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Following the presentation, Pratt answered residents' questions about the project, of which there were a few. People were then given the opportunity to make a public statement directly to the council during the hearing, which no one did.

Council members, then, unanimously approved the $3,393,286 bid from Hough, Inc., of Detroit Lakes for the street and utility work. Pratt said he thinks construction could begin on West Lake Drive between County Road 6 and the Pelican River by mid-July.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Mayor Matt Brenk, after the meeting. "This whole project started because these people were having these sewer backup problems, so I think they want to get the project done to correct that. Do they like the assessments? Maybe not so much, but I think they all understood it's probably not going to be any cheaper to do it down the road and the people were very polite and they asked good questions."

Jon Pratt also said bids for Phase One of the West Lake Drive project, between Legion Road and County Road 6, will open on June 20 and the Becker County Board of Commissioners and city council will be able to potentially approve those bids when each authority meets on June 21. If the winning, low bid receives approval in short-order, he added, construction could begin on Phase One by the end of July.

"I would love for us to be working on this Phase Two area by the middle of July, really that would be ideal," Pratt said, after the meeting. "Phase One, I don't know if mid-July is possible with bid opening on June 20 ... It's my hope, late-July, somewhere in there, that we'd get a start on it. If we get much later than that, I get elevated concern of getting it done. I already have reservations, but it really starts to get tight."

Following the meeting, Natalie Bly, alderman-at-large, said she was pleased the project was finally moving forward and that residents were able to get the answers they needed.

"Our city engineer did a great job of explaining the project and what it all involves," said Bly. "There were a few questions, he had all the answers, and this project will move forward."

West Lake Drive construction will pause and the road will reopen for traffic during WE Fest, which will be held outside of Detroit Lakes at Soo Pass Ranch on Aug. 4-6.

Lead Multimedia Reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus.
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