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Washburn City Council Considers Grant Program To Fund Repairs Of Aging Coal Dock

Council Set To Take Up Market Study, Potential Solar Installations


The Washburn City Council will take up whether to apply for state funding to help repair its aging coal dock on Monday. City Administrator Scott Kluver said they’re considering whether to apply for a grant under the Harbor Assistance Program. The program provides grant money to projects that improve waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Construction and repair of dock walls used for commercial transportation are eligible for funding through the program.

Kluver said they’re seeking funds because a wall on one side of the city landmark has been deteriorating.

“Everyone likes the coal dock. It’s an important asset to the community,” he said. “It’s probably the only place in our immediate area where it’s easy to load and unload materials to be used out on the islands or for any other project out in the water in the immediate area.”

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Kluver said the city has had difficulty meeting eligibility requirements to access federal funding. The city is unable to cover the entire cost of reconstruction, which the city administrator estimates could cost up to $1.5 million. While the coal dock is not frequently used by commercial operators, Kluver said marine contractors do rely on the dock as they work on nearby projects.

“So the question is if we can do this and we can apply for a grant from the state to assist with the reconstruction of the coal dock, is the city willing to go ahead with that?” Kluver said. “Because the city is going to have to kick in some amount of money to help with the rehabilitation.”

Kluver said the city would also have to keep the coal dock available for commercial use for around 20 years if the city received funding through the grant program. The deadline for applying for Harbor Assistance Program funding is August 1st.

The council will also address whether to solicit a study on the potential market for properties located on Omaha Street. Kluver said the city has 10 acres of property for sale between the downtown and marina. He said they’d like to see residential or commercial developments in that area.

“The goal here is to increase the city’s property tax base, increase residents in the city, increase utility customers – all the good things that come with stabilizing and slowing our population,” he said.

But, Kluver said developers want more information about the potential market in the area. The council will consider whether to conduct a study to provide that information to potential developers, which would be paid for through with funds from the city’s capital budget. Kluver expects the study could cost around $15,000.

In addition, the council will consider whether city-owned properties may be ideal for installing solar panels that would tie into the electrical grid.

Other items on the agenda include:

-Discussion and action on adding police informant policy to police department operating policies
-Presentation and discussion on public works activity report
-Public discussion and action on request to change dog prohibition ordinances in city cemetery

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