City Looks at Long Term Infrastructure

The Valley City City Commission reconsidered the possibility of selling the City Auditorium and heard city engineering firm Kadrmas Lee and Jackson’s long-range plans for infrastructure improvements for the city during its regular meeting Monday.

City Commissioner Matt Pedersen spoke with his fellow commissioners about the possiblity of selling the City Auditorium to private parties, which the city has been considering for some time, before this particular commission was seated.

Recently, grant and city funds have been invested to improve the windows and roof in the Auditorium to attract potential buyers. Mayor Bob Werkhoven said there has been some interest from buyers, including Valley City State University and others looking to convert the Auditorium to rental property.

A main concern Pedersen had with selling the building was getting permanent flood protection due to a federal and state law that prohibits building a permanent levee on the floodplain.

Following a conversation with the State Water Commission, Pederson said The State Water Commission “couldn’t support a project in the Auditorium due that it’s sitting in the floodway. It’s kind of the understanding that Valley City, as being part of the national flood insurance program, that we make continuous efforts to move buildings and move people out of the floodway, and here we would be potentially an (making) investment there.”

While the main floor of building is out of the 100-year floodplain, the land around it is not.

City officials discussed their options to alleviate some flood concerns on the property, saying they could fill the basement, and that they have been successful in protecting that part of the city in emergency flood protection efforts up to this point.

While no motion was made, the city ultimately decided to move forward to try and find a buyer.

KLJ and City Administrator David Schelkoph have worked together to establish an almost ten-year plan for future infrastructure improvements for the city. Improvements include work on streets, water mains, sewer lines, storm sewers and how they related to flood control as well as some projects that have been delayed.

Projects in 2013 are expected to cost about $2.1 million, and projects in 2014 are expected to cost about $3.3 million. These numbers reflect the average projected cost for projects in the year to come.

The city can use funds in the Renewal and Replacement Fund, which generates about $1.2 million per year, to help pay for the repairs, and the remainder of the costs will likely be picked up by special assessments or grant opportunities.

In other business, the commission approved a request from Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson to promote Mark McDonald’s title from detective to lieutenant. McDonald acted as interim police chief before Thompson was hired.

During his report, Schelkoph wanted to let the public know that the city is working on repairing the two malfunctioning traffic lights on Central Avenue. He said the city is looking at bids and discussing their options, but if the lights cannot be repaired, they will be turned into four-way stop signs.