The council once again took up the topic it began talking about some weeks ago about how to use the surplus $325,000 in the city’s tax increment financing district that includes a stretch of former railroad land. Nineteen projects are being proposed as candidates. Among them are extending 21st Avenue from just south of First Street and through the airport to the industrial park, looping together dead-end water mains for a housing project near West Branch Street, a street and utility project along Smith System Road and Old Hwy. 18 South, remodeling the civic center, removing eyesore buildings along Rum River Drive North, and building and helping build the amphitheater in Riverside Park to name some ideas.
Council member Paul Whitcomb suggested the surplus money go for projects in need that would add to the tax base, such as the proposed apartment complex along West Branch Street where dilapidated apartments were razed.
Central Minnesota Housing Partnership (CMHP) had been chosen to build the apartments but so far has been unable to start the project for lack of getting the grant it applied for from the state. CMHP, in fact, missed the deadline the city had set for it to get the project going.
Looping the water mains in that residential area would greatly improve fire protection, according to Fire Chief Jim Roxbury. Police Chief Brian Payne pushed for using the surplus money to help extend 21st Avenue to speed the response time for officers to the industrial park. What is now a three-mile journey, would only be a half-mile, Payne said.