By agreeing to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan for reconstructing U.S. Highway 51 through Minocqua in early 2013, the town is to receive $295,800 in Community Sensitive Solution highway project funds.
Thursday the Minocqua Town Board held a meeting to discuss how the town should spend the funds to help beautify the corridor through Minocqua after the project is completed.
The funds, however, aren’t as much as they might first appear. Supervisors learned that of the $295,800 the DOT is to provide to the town, the DOT will keep $22,450 for itself as a “construction engineering fee.” The DOT said the money is “standard figure” they get to keep from the town for administering the project’s construction contracts.
About $28,000 would also be a credit to the town for helping with the highway project’s feasibility study.
Supervisors complained about the state’s keeping more than $22,000 out of money the state promised to the town, but ended up shaking their heads and acknowledging there was not much they could do about it and would just move ahead.
According to town Chairman Mark Hartzheim, the CSS funds can only be spent on items within one-quarter of a mile from the highway.
“That means some of the funds can be spent on needs at Torpy Park and the Aqua Bowl, but can’t be spent on anything for the town’s sports park on Highway 70 West,” Hartzheim said.
Additional highway work
The project was to include reconstruction of the highway from near Torpy Park heading north to Woodruff, but Hartzheim said it’s been suggested an additional portion of the highway heading into Minocqua’s downtown also be reconstructed as part of the original project.
“Parts of the roadway from Torpy Park to the downtown lights at Front Street have also been deteriorating and it’s been suggested that portion also be resurfaced during the project,” Hartzheim said.
He said the town would have to pay $8,735 for the milling, overlay and striping on both sides of the highway where parking is allowed otherwise the state would only resurface the driving lanes and would leave the parking lanes as they are.
“It doesn’t make sense to leave the parking lanes looking like that while the driving lanes are redone,” Hartzheim said. “The money would be well spent.”
That money could also come from the town’s CSS funds from the state.
Supervisors agreed to spend an estimated $144,227 on six-inch colored textured concrete that would be installed on both sides of the highway for the entire length of the project in the town. The concrete bricks would be installed adjacent to the highway in places where grass is unable to grow and will “beautify” the town as well as serve as a way to unify the downtown with businesses that are located north of the downtown.
“We want people to keep feeling they are still in the business district by having these bricks extend from the downtown north,” Hartzheim said.
The group also agreed to purchase eight benches for seating at specific locations along the improved highway at a cost of about $5,100. They also agreed four cement trash containers would also be placed along the highway at a total cost of about $2,000.
Some supervisors said the “bump out” locations where the benches and trash containers are to be located might be too small to allow the placing of four possible planters. If purchased, the four planters have an estimated cost of about $2,400.
Town public works director Butch Welch suggested the town make cardboard cutouts of the exact amount of space that would be available at the bump outs. Then they could make cardboard cutouts of the planters, benches and waste containers to see if the items would fit in the space that would be provided. If not, the planters might not be purchased because of the possible lack of space for their placement.
Supervisors also agreed they would like to see electrical outlets installed on each of the new light poles that will be placed adjacent to the reconstructed highway.
If they did so, the town would need about 42 such outlets at an estimated cost of approximately $5,600. The outlets could be used to light Christmas decorations that could be hung from the light poles.
Other possible uses
Supervisors also discussed the possibility of the remaining CSS funds being used for other improvements, such as:
• Adding signage for the Aqua Bowl and the Mini-Aqua Bats.
• Lights at the Aqua Bowl.
• Replacing the main Torpy Park sign and adding an additional sign near the highway.
• Placing “Lake Minocqua” signs at the bridge and causeway.
• Placing an attractive “Welcome to Minocqua” sign entering the Island, north and south.
• Supplement funds to put a name on water tower.
• Obtain yellow flashing lights for fire department entering and have them operational on Chippewa and Oneida streets.
• Purchase signage on Highway 51 downtown for public library, town hall, Aqua Bowl, museum, etc., similar to what is already in place for the police department and the boat landing.
• Buy additional trees on the causeway for placement on the pond side of the highway.
• Construct an additional recreational outlook on the pond side of the highway.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.