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Looking ahead

It has been just over a year since the coronavirus (COVID) greatly disrupted our lives. The City throughout this last year kept nearly all services fully operational and projects have been able to progress towards completion. 2021 will not only be a year of finishing what we started in terms of building and facility projects, but also a focus on future community needs.

Community services programming such as senior citizen services, community education and recreation programs adjusted to the restrictions due to COVID in 2020. One large project that was impacted by the pandemic was the city’s community pool project referred as the Marshall Aquatic Center. The city’s intention was to bring forward the concept of a new aquatic center in April of 2020 with an in-person community input session.

We were never able to safely bring the community together for this discussion last year and the project now takes full attention and priority for 2021. The Marshall Aquatic Center has served the residents of Marshall and surrounding communities for more than 50 years.

The current facility is showing its age and has numerous deficiencies in code compliance, operations, customer experience and maintenance costs. Soon the City Council will consider hiring an architect/engineering firm to obtain community feedback and provide design and construction documents for eventual commencement of the project.

Construction of City Hall began late February of 2020. During those next few months challenges were discovered with existing 1914 and 1964 foundations in the lower level and water infiltration from the nearby hotel property possibly hindering a strong foundation for the new City Hall. Soon thereafter, the City decided to demolish the hotel property and a new wall on the southeast side of the building was constructed and design concepts for the space, simply named a plaza for now, between City Hall and Main Stay Café were developed.

The project will be funded with existing revenue. Capacity gained by retirement of existing debt and utilization of the city’s Liquor Store revenue will provide payment for the bonds. No planned new or increased taxes will be needed for the project. To date, the construction costs are $5.7 million. Despite the construction challenges, in May, the City hopes to move back into the newly constructed City Hall. An open house will be planned for late June and the plaza we hope will take shape this summer as well.

Each year the city ensures that street construction and maintenance occur to avoid more costly repairs in future years. Below, two larger street projects set to begin in 2021:

• Z82 – N. 1st St./W. Redwood St./W. Marshall St. Reconstruction Project – Beginning in early May, completion expected around August.

• Z83 – James Ave./Camden Dr. Reconstruction Project – Beginning in early June, completion expected around August.

In addition, numerous streets are slated to have a bituminous overlay or chip seal placed on them to prolong the useful life of the street.

Bids for the water treatment plant were received in July 2019 with the low bid be awarded to local contractor KHC, Inc. for approximately $11 million. The State of Minnesota has provided $7 million with the remainder from City of Marshall and MMU wastewater and water usage fees. While gradual softening of the water has started to begin, the system will not be fully operational until sometime in early Summer.

Look for the city and Marshall Municipal Utilities to provide additional information when residents can adjust their own personal water softening systems based on the new lower water hardness levels.

In August, replacement of aged equipment at the city’s wastewater treatment facility will be nearly complete. The $14 million project began in 2019 and is funded with a public infrastructure low interest loan paid back by wastewater usage fees.

In May, the city is projected to receive results from the 2020 US Census count. Estimates from the MN State Demographer has Marshall growing in population, however as a region, population growth has been stymied which provides for additional challenges not only for existing business growth but attracting additional economic development. Discussions on rebuilding our economy following what we hope soon is an end to the COVID pandemic will coincide with not only the release of Census population figures, but also how best to invest the next round of federal assistance of which Marshall is anticipated to receive $1.5 million.

So much of we did in 2020 depended on your support. We will need your continued support as we progress through 2021.

— Sharon Hanson is the city administrator for the City of Marshall

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