At last week’s meeting of the Grand Rapids City Council, City Engineer Julie Kennedy updated officials on the status of several important initiatives and projects.
First up for discussion was the natural gas expansion project spearheaded by Minnesota Energy Resources, PUC, and the city. Kennedy said that the project exceeded expectations with 49 new customers, adding that there are 12 more waiting to connect.
Kennedy continued with a discussion on the Iron Range Regional Rail Initiative. She characterized the project as having two focus areas, one covering the eastern and central range and another covering the west range, including Grand Rapids. The city engineer said that a goal of the project was to increase competition in the rail business. Currently, area businesses are held captive by one rail carrier. Increasing the number of rail options to two could save businesses as much as 30-35 percent in rail-associated costs, she said.
The master plan at the airport was the next topic of discussion. Kennedy said that project started last fall and will continue through 2016. The project will look at all of the uses at the airport and conclude with rezoning.
Finally, the city engineer wrapped up her remarks by talking about upcoming road construction projects. Kennedy said that 5th Street from Ogle’s to 8th Avenue, and 8th Avenue from 7th Street to the Horn Bridge were slated for improvements to roadway, stormwater, sidewalk and adjacent trails. Construction will begin about June 6 and conclude before Labor Day. A public hearing will be held in late February to discuss the project.
In other business, the council:
• Observed the promotion of Officer Andy Morgan to Patrol Sergeant.
• Authorized the issuance of a request for proposals for the preparation of a riverfront performance venue feasibility study.
• Authorized golf course staff to seek bids for the purchase of 25 electric golf carts.
• Established the Grand Rapids Armory as the election polling place for precinct No. 2.
• Appointed Deborah Kee and Lisa Tabbert to the Library Board.
• Vacated a fire and public utility easement in the vicinity of the former Pro-Build or UBC building and Itasca Resource Center.