By Stefanie Donahue
The effort to install a 1,450-foot sewer line through Lincoln Park and along D Street is just steps away from completion, according to Blaine city staff. Just as they had intended, the project has piqued the interest of nearby property owners.
In late February 2016, Blaine City Council voted to approve the sewer extension through Lincoln Park and along D Street in an effort to advance long-awaited development in east Blaine. Currently, three mid-size to large development projects by the names Bridges Plat, East Maple Ridge and Grandis Pond sit stagnant in anticipation of proper utility infrastructure.
In March, Colacurcio Brothers Construction Inc. took on the task for $250,645 and began digging through Lincoln Park and up through D Street. According to staff with the Blaine public works department, a 15-inch sewer line has been installed and tested. Crews are currently on standby awaiting proper weather to move forward with paving, planting and adding other amenities.
Leading up to the project’s completion, likely in late June, city staff are aiming to pave the trail on the north entrance of Lincoln Park and converting a “flat spot in the dirt” into a small parking lot with two to three spaces, said assistant public works director Bill Bullock.
Paving will require secondary approval from the Blaine City Council and funding would come from the parks budget, said Blaine public works director Ravyn Whitewolf. Depending on what the city council decides, “We will either pave the parking areas as planned, or do the trail in addition to parking areas,” she said.
What sounds like an ordinary public works project to some is a valuable step forward to others, particularly those who are next in line to finance various utility extensions to east Blaine. A whopping 1,400 lots comprise Bridges Plat, East Maple Ridge and Grandis Pond and they’ve been sitting on the books since 2010 and 2011.
The recent extension reaches up to the Bridges Plat property line and was meant to be a catalyst for the trio of development projects to get started. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the property owner to cover the cost of water, sewer or power connections.
The project was funded through the city’s wastewater capital fund, which is backed by General Facility Fees imposed on new utility service connections. Project leads with Bridges Plat also pitched in an estimated 50 percent of the cost to extend 250 feet of the line to the edge of their property, Bullock said.
Since its inception, the project has sparked an interest from several nearby property owners, most of whom own vacant land and have yet to even apply for plat approvals from the city, Bullock said. While nothing has been set in stone, Bullock said it’s the type of activity the city was hoping to see out of the project. “I think it is sparking the interest it was intended to spark,” he said.
With the majority of the city’s land capacity located in east Blaine, development has the potential to ease the burden of utility costs for existing rate payers and generate much-needed property tax revenue for the city.
It’s in the hands of private owners to invest in extending utility connections out into east Blaine. Bullock said he and his staff are waiting in anticipation to see which domino falls first.
“We’ve now provided the chicken,” he said. “They need to provide the eggs.”