The Ladysmith Common Council voted 6-0 with one abstention, Monday, to approve a resolution allowing for submission of a federal industrial park Economic Development Administration Economic Adjustment Assistance program grant application to help fund a new water main extension that would complete a loop and two street improvements, each project located at or near the south industrial park.
The utility and street improvements are currently projected to cost a combined $1.2 million. They are being combined in a single grant application to meet funding requirements.
The proposed new water main is planned to cross over Flambeau River and connect the existing dead end water main at Wis. 27 and Doughty Road to the existing main at the north end of the Wis. 27 Flambeau River bridge. To cross the river, the new main extension would be hung on the roadway bridge, similar with two other water main river crossings in the city.
The proposed street rebuilds would be Gustafson Road, from Doughty to Barnett roads, and Barnett Road, from Doughty Road to the Industrial Park ballfield driveway including the rail spur crossings.
The road rebuilds were previously engineered in 2015 and that engineering was paid for at that time. The water main will need to be engineered. That engineering was approved at the Monday meeting and will be funded from Tax Incremental District or Mining Fund revenue.
The resolution passed by city council at its Jan. 24 meeting, authorizes submittal of an EDA EAA application, designation of a city representative and provides a matching fund guarantee for the water and road projects. The EDA EAA program provides up to 80 percent, matched with 20 percent from the local level. The city’s 20 percent share could come from general obligation fund or utility revenue, or potentially Clean Water Fund and Safe Drinking Water Loan Program money available through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The city administrator will act as the city representative on the project.
City officials touted the economic benefits including expanded business development that might result.
The federal money is available to help increase the attractiveness of publicly owned industrial sites like the Ladysmith south industrial park, according to City Administrator Alan Christianson. He said there are quite a few lots of varying sizes and buildings owned or co-owned between the county and city that could be sold to private manufacturers.
“We’ve had a few projects on the shelf here, and projects we have talked about fairly recently,” Christianson said. “The EDA grant would potentially provide 80 percent of the funding with 20 percent match being required of the city. That match could potentially come in the form of DNR funding in the form of principal forgiveness or a low interest loan through their Safe Drinking Water Loan Program, which the city has utilized for other recent projects.”
The water main project would improve south industrial park water pressure and water tower distribution system. The street work would bring Gustafson and Barnett roads up to truck standards and update storm sewers.
“We are figuring it is going to be a $1.2 million project, or maybe a little more based on the original engineering,” Christianson said. “Given the cost, both are $500,000 to $600,000 each, it makes a little more sense to tie them both together.”
As a municipal water system improvement, funding for the water main improvement would come from the city’s water utility. The main would be attached to the Wis. 27 bridge and run over the river, like water mains running along the Brooklyn Bridge and County G bridge. An underground boring for the proposed new main is deemed too costly.
The last underground water crossing below Flambeau River was to connect the city’s new well on Flambeau Avenue with the water treatment plant at the Rusk County Fairgrounds. That project encountered many large boulders and rocks buried under the river.
The council’s vote last week approves paying $9,500 from the city’s TID or Mining Fund moneys to Ladysmith planning engineers Morgan & Parmley to submit the grant application. If the grant is awarded, the council will then vote on awarding a contract for project oversight.
Christianson told the council the city’s 20 percent share of a $1.2 million total project would be about $300,000. This is less than the proposed cost of either projects as now proposed. He added improving the streets make the industrial lots more marketable, potentially bringing more employers to the area.
“We are not building the roads for he truck traffic of today. We are not building them for the truck traffic of 1960. We are building them for the future,” Christianson said. “You can still vote it down if you get [the grant] awarded.”
Ald. Bill Morgan objected to the scale of the Barnett and Gustafson roads proposals. He called a $600,000 cost estimate “terrible bad,” but he admitted the roads need improvements.
“There is no reason to go out there and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on roads like that,” Morgan said.
Ald. Marty Reynolds called the grant application a justifiable expense. He said the water and road work are needed.
“We’ve got to loop that water. We have been talking about it for a number of years, finding a way to loop the water between those two mains,” Reynolds said. “Even if it is overkill on Gustafson and Barnett [roads], they both need to be fixed.”
Current project costs are estimates. Exact costs are not available.
A related resolution declaring the city’s intent to fund its share of the project passed on a unanimous vote.
The projects are slated for 2023 or 2024, based on funding timelines.