Main Street battle in Spring Grove - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Main Street battle in Spring Grove


SPRING GROVE, Minn. (KTTC) -- A big debate in a small town has citizens, the current mayor, and the incoming mayor divided over what's under Main Street.

"We have pipes that were put in the late '30s," said Spring Grove Mayor Saundra Solum.

The road that is dividing the town is also dividing its citizens on the issue of whether or not to replace the sewage lines.  The plan would take out the Ash trees, but they've already been taken care of.

"We applied for the grant and successfully we were awarded $25,000 to replace 31 Ash trees," said City Administrator Theresa Coleman.

"The most important part of that is that we will go from a four inch water main to an eight inch water main," said Solum.

In doing the research, a plan to resurface the road was already in place by MnDOT, so why not kill two birds with one stone?" explained MnDOT's Kristin Kammueller. "It was a good opportunity to have a partnership with them through our municipal agreements."

MnDOT is offering $1.5 million to the town to help cut costs of its underground issue.

"The money factor is what I think is scaring people right now," said Solum.

A project like this doesn't come cheap.  Mayor Solum explained the rough final cost is $4.3 million; $2.7 million to be paid for by the citizens. 

"If we took the entire project and evened it out across all households in Spring Grove, it would be between $20 and $30 extra a month," said Solum.

But the mayor explained that won't be the case for everyone. The city is working on more grant money, and the cost could go down.

"And the taxes and the increase in the utility and water and sewage rate are going to push them over the edge," said Mayor-Elect Bruce Poole.  Poole is not on board with the plan.  He has more questions, asking: "Is there anything we can change or is it all locked in? Can we reduce the cost at all? Or do we either have to live with it or cancel it?"

But how often will the state spot a town cash on a pipe project that'll have to be done sooner or later.

"They're old but they're still working," said Poole.

"Now is the time to do it because we have $1.5 million from the state. That's a lot of money for anyone in town," said Solum.

And if the two projects don't coincide: "There's no reason to have that municipal agreement so then that money would go away," said Kammueller.

"We will basically help this next council and mayor understand that we have this plan that it's not going to be this huge increase," said Solum.

A meeting between Poole, MnDOT, and Mayor Solum is set for Friday to discuss the issue more thoroughly.

An expectedly larger public meeting will be at the Fest building in Spring Grove on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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