Village of Boyceville will ask state to reduce scope of Safe Route to School project

BOYCEVILLE — The Village Board will ask the state to reduce the scope of their planned Safe Route To School Project.

The plan for the project was to build new sidewalks and two railroad crossings from the area south of State Highway 170, which should allow a safer path for kids to walk to school.

[emember_protected] The village has received a grant in the amount of $228,000 for the project. The original estimate for the project was $175,000 plus $50,000 for work on railroad property. But when bids were presented to the Village board last month, they came in at twenty-five percent over the estimate, but the original estimate was done five years ago and that figure is what the grant was based on.

Erik Evenson of the Rice Lake firm of MSA addressed the Village Board about the project and how to address the higher cost. He said, “Options include reducing the scope of the project to get the cost close to what the grant moneys are available.” Reducing the size by $40,000 off the bid would still require the village to come up with $24,000 plus the moving of a couple of fire hydrants. 

Evenson came up with four options for the board to consider including proceeding with the bid, re-bidding in the spring, but he cautioned, “That’s a big gamble hoping for a lower bid.” He also stated that reducing the scope of the project to get the price down within the grant funds, but he noted that the state would have to approve that plan, and the final option was to cancel the project. But, he said, “the state would ask to be refunded the grant money plus the $32,000 already spent on the project.”

Before the Board took up the discussion of the Safe Route to School Bid, Jolene Bird addressed the members of the Village Board. First she thanked members for their service to the community. She then questioned about the Safe Route to School project as planned, “That some of the areas in the project are not in the best interest of the students.”

Bird questioned the need to extend sidewalks to the Charlotte and Donald Street areas, noting that it is a mile from there to the elementary school and that school buses pickup students in that area. “I have never seen anyone using the sidewalks,” and questioned the board if that was the best usage of funds to get the kids to school. She stated that only three to five kids cross highway 170 on K and suggested other areas of the community that would be better served, noting that there are 18 students in the elementary school coming off Granbakken Way and Edwyna Avenue. She also suggested that new sidewalks would not get used, as they will be only several feet from the homes in that area.

Board Member John Hillman suggested to the board that maybe some changes are needed. “Two members of the community have brought concerns to the board about the projects. Sidewalk usage, lack of lights and that the property owners are the ones that will be required to take care of the sidewalks.

After a long discussion on how to proceed, Board Member Mary Lagerstrom moved to go ahead with the bid as planned. That motion was seconded by Keith Sorensen and Village President Gib Krueger asked for a roll call vote and the motion failed on a 3 to 3 vote with Lagerstrom, Sorensen and Krueger voting in favor and Bud Gilbertson, John Hillman and Brad Stevens voting against it.

After some more discussion, Krueger moved to ask the State Department of Transportation to revise the scope of the project. All members of the board approved that motion, and that will move any work on the project into next year. [/emember_protected]