City hopes sewer extension will spark development in east Blaine

A map of east Blaine utility expansion for Bridges Plat, East Maple Ridge and Grandis Pond. The area highlighted in red to the far left illustrates the sewer line Blaine City Council approved in February. The yellow line to the right indicates the Grandis Pond sewer extension route. Photo courtesy of the city of Blaine

By Stefanie Donahue

Blaine City Council voted to approve a 1,450-foot extension of sewer line through Lincoln Park and along D Street. With construction slated to begin at the end of March, city staff hope the project will spur long-awaited development in east Blaine.

The council voted February 27 after issuing a call for bids on the project. The city hired Colacurcio Brothers Construction Inc., which submitted a bid of $250,645, about $12,000 above the city staff estimate.

This is a big step for the city, explained Blaine Public Works director Ravyn Whitewolf, who said the extension is “intended to be the catalyst for the east Blaine projects to start.”

Currently, three medium-to-large development projects, Bridges Plat, East Maple Ridge and Grandis Pond, await infrastructure such as connection to sewer and power. Combined, the projects contain more than 1,400 lots and each has received approval to build from the city.

According to Blaine community development director Michael Jones, East Maple Ridge and Bridges Plat were approved in 2010, while Grandis Pond received approval in 2011.

Colacurcio Brothers Construction Inc. will install an estimated 1,450 feet of 15-inch sanitary sewer main through Lincoln Park and along D Street, up to the Bridges Plat property line, east of Lincoln Park. The city is funding the project through the wastewater capital fund, which is backed by General Facility Fees imposed on new utility service connections.

The fund isn’t enough to support the infrastructure required for all three development projects in east Blaine, so the city submitted a legislative proposal in February for a total $3,350,000 in project funding.

Whitewolf said the budget covers 50 percent of the total infrastructure cost and will enable utilities to be extended to the property line of the Grandis Pond development. The developer of the site has committed $3 million to the project, she said, noting that developers of all three sites are responsible for the cost of constructing their project’s internal infrastructure, whether that be water, sewer or power connections.

The proposal submitted to legislators calls for the construction of 3,200 feet of 15-inch wastewater main from Bridges Plat through the East Maple Ridge plat, located east of Jerome street. The proposal also includes an extension of another 4,000 feet of 12-inch main to the west boundary of Grandis Pond and 3,000 feet of 12-inch main from East Maple Ridge to the west boundary of Grandis Pond.

Leading up to the February vote, Blaine City Council also approved the expansion of sewer services to east Blaine’s Vista Terrace neighborhood through the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID). Despite opposition from some residents, the LID requires property owners to share costs to construct and connect to the city’s sewer system beginning this year. Funding for the project was also obtained through a grant and Blaine Public Works.

“For a community of only 5,000 people, a large amount of our future land capacity for development is located in east Blaine,” read the legislative proposal. “In addition, the city of Blaine completed construction of [the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility] in 2012, designed for full build-out is now being financed by current rate payers with high utility rates.”

In the proposal, city staff argued that new development has the potential to generate sales and property tax revenue for the city. To boot, more individuals paying for utilities will lower overall rates for residents.

“In addition, development that results in more residents will also spur need for further retail and other economic development, which is desperately needed in our city,” read the proposal.

Out of the three approved developments, Whitewolf said the city is hopeful construction on Bridges Plat will begin this year.

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