Life in the Construction Zone
You head west on Main Street in Kasson and turn north onto Sixth Avenue Northwest. Oops. Road’s out.
Gotta turn around.
Let’s try Seventh Avenue. Nope. Construction.
Eighth? Uh, no. It’s Road Construction season. Plan accordingly.
“There are so many stories going around, and everybody has a different outlook,” said a woman who lives in town homes on 7 ó Street Circle Northwest and wished to remain anonymous. “It’d be nice to know how long they think it’s going to take. I have no idea.”
“They did something for water for the older people in the condos,” said another anonymous woman on Eighth Avenue Northwest – aka County Road 21, aka 240th Avenue, aka the Dump Road. “They didn’t tell them. They should’ve told them.”
“I’m glad that they’re repairing the road, ‘cause it was junk,” said another neighbor, as a car approached the Dump Road construction, turned around, and headed back south. “It’s a pain,” he said. “But that’s life in Minnesota.”
The City's $6.78 million street assessment project, which began in May, is in the first of 11 phases. The project includes street reconstruction of Third, Fourth and Fifth avenues Northwest from Main Street to Seventh and Eighth streets. It also will include reconstruction on Second Street Southwest, from Mantorville Avenue to County 34. The plan is to finish the south half of the project, from Main Street to Fourth and Fifth streets, by this fall, said city engineer Brandon Theobald of WHKS & Co., Rochester. The north half of the project area, from Fourth and Fifth streets north to Seventh and Eighth streets (in the Veterans Memorial Park area) will be completed in 2018.
City administrator Theresa Coleman said she has been able to reach the public library, Erdman’s County Market and the Kasson Aquatic Center from Main Street. But she feels for neighbors. “I can imagine it can be kind of overwhelming for the folks who live there. It seems like everything’s tore up,” she said. “But I believe everybody’s trying to make the best of it.”
It's not perfect, but the project needed to be done, said Eric Thompson, Dodge County Drug Court coordinator, corralled by journalists while mowing his lawn on Fourth Avenue Northwest. He said he appreciates the weekly homeowner update meetings, held Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the historic Kasson water tower on Fourth Avenue and Second Street Northwest. The meetings are hosted by on-site construction observer Tyler Baumbach of WHKS.
“I think the city has done about the best job it can, in terms of bringing the assessment costs down and meeting everybody’s needs here and dealing with their concerns, as far as mail pick-up, where the bus stop is, our garbage pick-up, all that,” Thompson said. “They’ve done a good job communicating. I think they’ve been really responsive to the neighborhood.” He said the biggest inconvenience is the Dump Road being torn up, since he works in Mantorville. But the loss of beautiful old trees is especially painful.
If you’re a Kasson tree marked ‘X,’ you’re coming down. “For an old neighborhood to start over with trees, it’s a loss,” Thompson said. “But I guess you can’t stop progress. It’s an inconvenience, but I think the city’s done the best job it could to make it as comfortable as possible.” While he feels mostly positive about the construction, Thompson said others feel differently.
The anonymous person on 7 ó Street Circle said couldn’t get to her mail one day, and she knows of someone who was delayed getting home by 15 minutes, because of a lack of detour signs. Also, she said, caregivers are having difficulty getting in to serve clients. “I just think that something wasn’tthought out right,” she said.
Thompson, who lives on a corner lot, said he will be assessed the same amount as neighbors who don’t have nearly asmuch frontage property. “For me it worked out pretty good, but for other neighbors, not so much,” he said. “This is a really nice neighborhood. It’ll be nice, I think, when the project is done and the city comes through and replants trees. Ten years from now, it’ll just be a distant memory.”