A discussion of the Highway 371 reconstruction project at the Nov. 2 Hackensack City Council meeting helped clarify who would be responsible for what costs when work begins in 2024.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has prepared a final layout of Hwy. 371 from C.R. 5 to CR 40, which has been reviewed by the council, local businesses and residents. The council approved a resolution waiving municipal consent approval action (i.e., waiving further discussion of the layout).

A document titled “Good Faith Cost Participation Estimate Summary”  laid out the city’s part of costs for the proposed construction, which come to $197,763.60. That could change if the layout changes or the city requests certain features.

MnDOT would be responsible for 100 percent of costs associated with reconstruction of Hwy. 371 through the city. It also will be responsible for 100 percent of costs to restore intersecting side streets to their current width. However the city would cover added costs to widen side streets.

The preliminary estimate for street lighting  from C.R. 5 to C.R. 40 is $376,000. MnDOT would pay up to 50 percent if lighting met guidelines, leaving the city’s share at $188,000. If the city requested lighting on a shorter segment, the same cost-share split would apply. Side street lighting  would be the city’s responsibility.

The city might have the opportunity to include municipal utility work into the construction plan, if the work falls within the construction corridor and if MnDOT agrees. If so, the city pays the entire bill.

MnDOT will pay for costs associated with keeping existing drainage patterns as much as possible. If the city or a business wants to add additional flow, that would be a 100 percent local cost.

The new roundabout proposed at the intersection of Hwy. 371 and CR. 5 will be paid for by MnDOT. Roundabout construction and lighting costs will be covered by MnDOT and Cass County.

Hackensack’s auditing firm, Clasen Stegner and Schlessl, recently terminated those services to the city, due to lack of personnel. City Clerk Jody Knapp has been searching for another firm and received just one reply, from Mark Babcock, CPA, of Babcock Langbein CPA, St. Paul. Babcock also  does the city of Remer’s audit and will do Hackensack’s annual audit for $6,200, which is $2,100 less than last year.

Councilor Jim Schneider wanted more information about Babcock and his firm and more time to decide. Councilor Bill Kennedy pointed out that time was short, and the city could contract with Babcock for one year only. The 4-1 vote to hire Babcock for one year only saw Schneider casting a nay vote.

The council also asked Knapp to see if Clasen Stegner and Schlessl broke its contract when it ended services, or perhaps the contract was about to expire anyway.

Les Mateffy of Moore Engineering gave an update on work planned next year for the First Street loop in downtown.

The city approved the county loop layout, including new diagonal parking for two blocks of First on both side of the street. Vehicles pulling trailers, etc., will still be allowed to park parallel when necessary, and signage to that effect will be installed.

The water tower cleaning project will be put out for bids, with bids due between Dec. 15-Jan. 4, subject to USDA approval.

A Department of Health permit fee of $150 was authorized for chemical addition to the water plant to remove more iron and manganese.

A Memorandum of Understanding was adopted between the city and developer Bob Johnson for Red Oak Road. This year’s early snowfall made it difficult to take soil samples from the road,  so the city has agreed to informally “adopt” it for the winter and plow it. In the spring, Johnson and his contractor will make the reparations originally planned for October, soil samples will be taken, and once they pass, the city will consider formal adoption of the road.

Miranda Sater with the Community Forestry Corps reported that she has been inventorying trees on public land in Hackensack, a total of about 270. The inventory will resume next spring when trees leaf out. She is also working on an emerald ash borer plan for the city and with Paws and Claws on their pollinator garden. The project is a partnership between the city and Deep Portage Learning Center.

In other matters the Council

Approved an agreement with Ehlers Public Finance, not to exceed $750, to do a financial review to determine how to resolve the outstanding Tax Increment Financing note related to TIF No. 1-5.

Accepted a proposal from the Hackensack Pickleball Club that will allow the club to resume play two or three times per week at the Community Center. The proposal follows COVID-19 guidelines for scheduling, community center use, sanitizing and other issues, and equals or exceeds general state guidelines for gyms and fitness centers Club members will also be asked to sign waivers.

Encouraged city and area residents to complete a community survey at  www.surveymonkey.com/r/HWXTHGM. The survey is also on the new city of Hackensack website, cityofhackensackmn.org. The survey is part of the Comprehensive Plan update process.

Learned that all CARES Act funding has been spent on eligible projects, and that $37,500 was received for a new HVAC system at the onsale. The city will also get $2,500 for electrical service for the system.

Accepted a $1,000 check from the Hackensack Lions and moved to pay the same amount toward Back to Hack fireworks.

Approved renewal of the employee hospitalization policy with Medica for five full-time employees with a premium increase of $49.06 per year per person. The city pays 100 percent.

Commended Mayor Larry Ciha for making personal contacts to resolve two nuisance ordinance issues.

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