May 20, 2019 Work Session Minutes

MAY 20, 2019 – 6:00 PM

CALL TO ORDER - The work session was called to order by Mayor Rockvam at 6:00 p.m.

Council Members Present: Jerome P. Rockvam, Mayor; Pamela Horton; Gary Hughes; Catherine Kane Palen; and Megan Pavot

Staff Present: Dan Tolsma, City Administrator; Mike Kuno, City Engineer; Brian Hare, Assistant City Engineer; Mary Tietjen, City Attorney; and Theresa Schyma, City Clerk


City Engineer Kuno presented a proposal for a feasibility study for the proposed West Arm Road West project. He discussed aspects of the proposal including access issues, potential restoration issues, and overall cost analysis. He further discussed the scope of the project including the cost implications of the several options available to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure. He is also including a limited topographic survey on West Arm Road West to see what options potentially exist to relocate the road and make a true intersection with Island Drive.

Council Member Hughes stated he has discussed water and sewer issues with a resident who has lived on West Arm Road West since the 1970’s and he could not recall a time where there has ever been an issue. He is questioning why the City would spend money to consider infrastructure improvements in an area that has never had an issue.

Mayor Rockvam added that there has never been a main break in that area compared to several breaks on Sunset Drive. He questioned why West Arm Road West was higher on the priority list than Sunset Drive. He also questioned why the City would consider other options when the lines could just be sliplined.

City Engineer Kuno responded that sliplining is one of the options and he wants to work with contractors in that area to look at options that are available to the City. He also stated that this infrastructure project was originally second on the priority list behind the Sunset Drive improvements. However, the Sunset Drive project was pushed to coordinate with Hennepin County’s improvement projects in that area. He discussed flow data from 2012-2017 which shows inflow and infiltration (I&I) in the system and that televising videos show cracking pipes in that area. He further discussed how I&I increases the City’s costs to the Met Council.

Mayor Rockvam stated he is personally against this feasibility study since the area hasn’t had a break in 50 years. He agrees with sliplining the area but is not in favor of a study that would consider other options.

Assistant City Engineer Hare stated that he looked at televising videos and the West Arm Road West area had the most issues. He added that the area also has deterioration issues with the cast iron pipes and that is definitely a concern.

City Administrator Tolsma stated that since 2014 the City has done a significant amount of sliplining and it has made a big difference with I&I. He asked City Engineer Kuno if the Council consensus is to only look at the sliplining option, would a topographic survey still be required for the project?

City Engineer Kuno responded yes; it is an important first step in project design. The goal of this project is to get West Arm Road West up-to-date from a street and utilities standpoint so that the City doesn’t have to worry about that area for another 25 years. He added that the City needs to start taking portions of the city and making improvements one portion at a time.

City Administrator Tolsma stated he doesn’t believe further discussion is needed on this particular project but there is definitely a need for a discussion as to what the approach of the City is on how infrastructure projects should be managed and prioritized. The discussion of the West Arm Road West project is a smaller microcosm as to the infrastructure in the City in general.

Council Member Kane Palen asked the Council if they want to be proactive and improve the City or wait for something to break, be reactive, and apply patches?

Mayor Rockvam stated that City Engineer Kuno has made a good presentation and the Council just needs to vote on this issue so it doesn’t drag on forever.

Council Member Hughes is in favor of doing infrastructure maintenance to keep things working until it is damaged beyond repair.

Council Member Pavot stated her concern is waiting for a sewer main break that could get in Lake Minnetonka. The City has an opportunity to recoup some of the costs of the project with future savings on I&I. The City is incurring costs with the Met Council for not repairing the area.

City Administrator Tolsma said that the Council needs to have somewhat of a unified approach as to how the City should manage infrastructure improvements. It seems the Council is split between two lines of thinking – if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it versus the City should be proactive and keep the City on a schedule for upgrades.

Council Member Pavot stated that the City put it its infrastructure all at once and the concern is that when things start breaking they start breaking everywhere. She is in favor of being proactive so that the City isn’t having to finance several potential catastrophic situations in a short time frame. The point of the feasibility report is to look at options.

Shirley Bren, 3935 Mapleton Avenue, asked the Council when they were actually going to do something with all of the information the City has received from engineers over the years. It seems there are constant discussions and payments for studies but the Council never takes action.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that Ms. Bren is getting to a more philosophical discussion that perhaps the City Council needs to have – what is the City’s approach for managing infrastructure improvements?

Council Members Kane Palen and Pavot stated they want to stop kicking the can down the road and see the data from a feasibility study to make a decision on infrastructure.

Council Member Horton agreed.

Mayor Rockvam and Council Member Hughes stated they were against the full feasibility study for West Arm Road West. Mayor Rockvam added that it appears the engineers will be able to move forward with the study since there will be a majority if the study is voted on at tonight’s regular meeting.

2. CITY BEAUTIFICATION PROPOSAL – Due to timing this item was tabled.


4. ADJOURN – The work session was adjourned by unanimous consent at 7:03 p.m.

Date Approved: June 3, 2019

Dan Tolsma, City Administrator

Theresa Schyma, City Clerk