NORTH MANKATO — The city of North Mankato is set to spend close to $4.7 million on infrastructure projects next year as part of a five-year, $29.2 million capital improvement plan.
The North Mankato City Council reviewed the city’s updated projects list Monday. It also signed off on several large improvement projects near Dakota Meadows Middle School, Monroe Avenue from Center to Range streets, and Harrison Avenue from Cross to Range streets.
Those projects, scheduled for next summer, means complete street reconstruction projects that replace water and sewer systems in lower North Mankato, while Dakota Meadows gets trails that run to Howard Drive, trail lighting and mid-block crossing signs partially funded through the Safe Routes to Schools program.
North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen suggested the city also schedule a planned Howard Drive street reconstruction project at the same time as the Dakota Meadows improvements. Dehen said he hoped North Mankato could add a dedicated turn lane or find some way to ease congestion near the school during pick-up and drop-off times during the school year.
“It seemed like a timely opportunity to improve the access to that parking lot to make it safer for both the parents and the passersby, as well as pedestrians and bikers going through there,” Dehen said.
Dehen also noted the planned trails, one from Howard Drive to Carlson Drive and one on the south end of Howard from Lookout to Lor Ray drives, were also part of the city’s plan to connect its parks.
City Administrator John Harrenstein noted the city’s projects list is about $9.1 million larger than North Mankato’s previous five-year plan the city approved last year.
That’s largely due to a $5.5 million allocation of local option sales tax funding toward renovating Caswell Park and a proposed indoor recreation center, but Harrenstein said city officials plan to increase the city’s infrastructure budget by about $500,000 to $800,000 each year to account for North Mankato’s ravine erosion issues.
Aside from large-scale street reconstruction, the city is also budgeting $500,000 toward ravine maintenance, which will be used to shore up the ravine and add more stormwater system piping near the North Ridge neighborhood.
“That ravine takes the majority of the stormwater in the community so getting that hard pipe down as far as possible is beneficial from what we’ve seen in the inspections,” Public Works Director Nate Host said.
North Mankato plans to spend about $390,000 next year on parks projects, which include improving the Benson Park parking lot and a “babbling brook” near Benson Park’s shelter or pedestrian bridge. Bluff Park is set to get a long-planned overlook for about $75,000, Spring Lake Park will get some minor improvements, and several other parks will receive maintenance.
City officials will spend about $1.2 million on street repairs, which will include $800,000 in state funding for area state-aid roads. North Mankato will also spend about $338,000 on water system projects, $250,000 on sewer system projects and about $250,000 on city equipment and minor repairs, including $60,000 in upgrades to City Hall and another $60,000 on a new police cruiser.