Corporate park addition on holdThe City Council said a collective “whoa” Tuesday night by delaying a decision whether to proceed with the second step -- preliminary engineering -- of developing the hilltop overlooking Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The City Council said a collective “whoa” Tuesday night by delaying a decision whether to proceed with the second step -- preliminary engineering -- of developing the hilltop overlooking Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park.
Council members agreed in January that the city needs more developable office/industrial space, then authorized Stevens Engineers to draw a concept and gather information.
It also seemed that federal stimulus money lay within reach of projects that could be “shovel ready” by July 1.
Now-retired City Administrator Bernie Van Osdale had submitted Whitetail Ridge as an idea.
Jason Raverty of Stevens said during the concept refinement, his team met with adjacent property owners, analyzed where roadways and sewers could run, compared concept-level costs and generally assessed the land’s potential.
Raverty reported that the land has some challenges but could be developed to give the city 24 acres. He said the preliminary, estimated cost per developable acre would be $41,500-$47,700.
Stevens’ cost comparison also showed a hypothetical site, presuming the city would buy 30 acres of flat land. Its cost per developable acre was $57,500.
The consultants learned the land bears rocky ground and springs that could make for soggy soil. The three neighbors reported no immediate plans to sell or develop and a preference for housing development in the long-term future.
Raverty said about a steep, curvy, north-facing roadway up the hill: “It’s really not an ideal situation,” adding that going up the eastern slope would be better.
The plan shows about 23 acres of total park land within Whitetail Ridge, some on top of the hill. Land with a slope greater than 20% can’t be developed.
Tuesday night council members asked questions:
City Engineer Reid Wronski said, “I would not count on the stimulus money at this point,” adding that he’s heard the funds will go only to “distressed counties.”
Council members and city staff discussed how the hilltop matter has been “hanging” since 2000 when it was last studied and sketched. That plan showed four different options but yielded no official decision on which was preferred.
Though the 2009-2010 budgets and the city’s long-term plan contain allowances of $150,000 for planning and designing the hilltop, the council postponed its decision about moving along to preliminary engineering until June because:
1) It wants the input and expertise of its new administrator who starts in May; 2) It wants to check land prices and availability; and 3) No stimulus money means less urgency.