A Housing Study Grant from Sourcewell could change the face and future of the city of Hackensack.

A self-sustaining government organization, Sourcewell, based in Staples, has more than 40 years of dedicated service helping government, education, and nonprofit agencies operate more efficiently through a variety of solutions (www.sourcewell-mn.gov).

At the May 3 meeting the Hackensack City Council agreed to apply for and accept (if awarded) a grant of $137,000 (city to be fiscal agent) to conduct a housing study that would result not only in more housing but affordable housing that uses local wood products, local entrepreneurship and local labor, and focuses on better design  to create lower operating and maintenance costs.

Gary Dietrich has been working with Sourcewell, the University of Minnesota city council, local businesses and others. A severe housing shortage is limiting growth and economic expansion in the area, he related. Mann Lake Limited in Hackensack, Cass County’s largest manufacturer, would like to double their revenue but is hampered by lack of affordable quality housing for current and future employees.

Grant funding “would be used to develop a set of flexible housing solutions that can be shared to help meet community needs, that can be built using local labor and resources, are well designed to get the most out of smaller footprints and with sustainable technologies that improve the home performance.” (Grant application)

The council unanimously approved the application. If successful the timeline for the housing study would begin this July, be completed by July 31, 2022, with a final report due Aug. 31, 2022.

A Community Match Funds Application to Sourcewell for $10,000 was also approved. That grant would help pay for tree planting and related equipment such as tree grates on First Street, all part of this summer’s construction project.

If approved, the city could get the $10,000 by the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2021), and could also apply for another $10,000 for the 2021-22 fiscal year.The total budget for trees, watering bags and iron tree grates is slightly under $60,000.

The First Street Project has been reviewed by State Aid and the USDA, engineers  Jim Curran and Les Mateffy of Moore Engineering reported. The First Street and water tower painting projects should go out for bids within the next week. If so, bid opening could be held June 2 and considered at the June 7 city council meeting.

Curran estimated the street project would start soon after July 4, run through the summer and fall, and wind up sometime in October. Staging areas need to be found to store materials and park construction equipment.

In order not to conflict with Sweetheart Days July 10-13, Curran said work would start somewhere other than downtown.

Reporting on the Hackensack Chainsaw Event Sept. 24 -26, Missy Smieja said she has more than enough carvers lined up for the event, plus the All American Lumberjack Show.

Due to the First Street project, she also will look for alternate locations for the event, in case First Street is still under construction. Moving to Lake Avenue might be an option, but Smieja will check with Union Church and Birchwood Gardens. The city ball fields are another possibility.  

On related matters, the council approved a Joint Powers Agreement between  Cass County and the city that spells out who is responsible for what parts of the First Street Project and ancillary streets.  The city also approve a right-of way certificate that asserts the city owns the land in and around the water tower and thus has the right to do the water tower work. The certificate is needed as part of the water tower painting bid process.

Maintenance Supervisor Dana Stanko reported that he and Casey Stanley will be removing the overhang at the municipal liquor store to prepare for the First Street project. They hope to get the job done before Memorial Day.

The  council also set May 22 as Hackensack clean-up day. Volunteers are encouraged to meet a 9 a.m. at the park pavilion to clean up the downtown area and along the trail; the city will provide garbage bags.

The next Planning Session will be May 24, 5 p.m. at the community center.

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