Riverside Park map

Earlier this year the city applied for FEMA funding for improvements to the Riverside Park area. The total project is $114,522 and the grant would provide 79% of the project costs. The city’s portion at $24,600 could come from capital funds in the street and park funds, as well as from the storm water enterprise fund. Pictured are the expected repairs to the area. (Image courtesy of Bolton&Menk)

After a year of working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on funding for flood repairs and improvements to Riverside Park, city officials announced last week that grants have been approved.

Engineer Derek Olinger and Public Works Director Wayne Ehrich reported FEMA approved grant funding for the park north of the city pool. Residents can anticipate construction beginning next spring/early summer.

Grant funds are expected to cover costs for the stabilization of the riverbank and storm sewer repair at about $61,000 and east access road repair at $14,300. This leaves the city to cover the remaining $24,600 of the costs which includes $11,000 towards riverbank improvements, $8,500 to access road improvements and $5,000 for other culvert replacements. Other culvert replacements are not eligible for FEMA funding because they were not damaged by the flood, but are failing and it’s recommended they be replaced.

In the event bids are more favorable than estimated, Olinger said the city share would decrease. If they’re higher, the city can apply for additional funding through FEMA to cover the difference. Olinger said grant funds should be sent to the city within two months.

About 5 feet of riverbank appeared to be washed out because of rains and flood in March-April 2019, and other areas saw some erosion, according to a report from Olinger at the 2019 October Council meeting. Some storm drain pipes have also been damaged and are plugged up with silt and sand. And there’s additional damage, including wash outs, to the access road on the eastern end of the road.

Funding is available through FEMA to cover 75% of eligible repairs due to a disaster declaration made by the federal government.

Following approval from the Council, Olinger will begin the engineering and survey work. Initial plans are expected to be completed over the course of winter.

COVID-19 CARES federal funding

With a deadline to spend federal CARES Act funds of Nov. 15, the council approved three final items. Of the $134,000 received, the city on Nov. 10 had just over $90,000 remaining to spend.

One of three items approved includes a first responder/fire truck chassis, part of a first responder vehicle for the Fire Department for $41,397 (the estimated total cost of that unit is approximately $210,000-$225,000). The purchase would come under state contract pricing. Due to current manufacturing delivery schedules, the remainder of the unit would not be delivered until later in 2021 or 2022. The remainder of the cost would be paid prior to delivery. Due to the cost, City Administrator Mark Vahlsing recommended utilizing a six to seven year capital equipment lease (used to lease equipment to use in the long term or purchase at the end of the lease period) at the time of delivery.

Other approved items: 10 portable handheld emergency radios (and chargers, mics and related equipment) for the Fire and Police departments, priced at $48,829. These radios would replace some older equipment currently utilized by the Fire and Police departments.

Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander said the current radios the department is using are from 2008 and though they’ve held up pretty well, the manufacturer Motorola isn’t going to continue making parts for them.

“Once the parts are gone, they are gone, it’s going to get harder and harder to get parts,” said Sjolander. “We really do need these, we use them all day every day.”

While all radios won’t be replaced, Sjolander said this purchase would be a good place to start and to slowly purchase more over the years.

Vahlsing included two other items that could be considered with the remaining funds, a cold air plasma generator air filtration system or touchless bathroom fixtures. Due to the increase of bathroom use by families and children going to the library in the summer, the council opted for the bathroom fixtures at $2,348, leaving $659 to be paid by the city.

Rechtzigel said, “We’ll get more bang for our buck with the bathroom fixtures, there’s lots of germs coming through there.”

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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