Awaysis plan on target with DNR backing; Harbor House demo, moving road ahead

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Relocating the road

Anytime you do a $30-million project, it's going to take some planning, at least if you want to do it right. And planning is the stage where Project Awaysis finds itself at the current moment.

Discovery of asbestos in the Harbor House has presented a relatively minor glitch that will hopefully be resolved when the the city awards bids to a contractor for asbestos removal, hopefully at the Storm Lake City Council's March 21 meeting.

At Monday night's council meeting, members set public hearings for 5 p.m. also on March 21 for public hearings on issuing the previously approved bonds to fund portions of the project.

There appear to be no serious barriers to construction. With Project Awaysis not only receiving the support but being the original suggestion of Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Jeff Vonk, the project should have no shortage of allies as it faces a gauntlet of permitting procedures.

Julie Sievers, DNR environmental specialist, said the agency has worked closely with the city throughout the permitting process and will continue to do so. "The city will follow any procedure as would any other developer," Sievers said.

Project Awaysis will apparently not face a similar challenge that met the dredging project at Five Island Lake at Emmetsburg. That dredging project was halted for nearly a year for historical study when a host of unexpected 5,000-year-old Native American artifacts was discovered.

The artifacts predated by 4,000 years anything that had been found in the area until that time.

Sievers said since much of Project Awaysis is located on fill material rather than original shoreline, it is expected that no artifacts will be discovered. Much of the project will be in the area where the Harbor House and pool are located. In the event that any artifacts are discovered, Sievers said the state Historical Society would be called in to conduct a full cultural inventory. Some evidence of a prehistory camp was found across the lake when the first dredging spoil site was obtained.

City Administrative Services Director Justin Yarosevich said the exact relocation of Sunrise Park Road has yet to be determined since that is part of the long-range planning process. At best estimate, the road will be relocated to somewhere between the existing Harbor House and the Municipal Golf Club House.

"None of the plans and specs have been drawn," Yarosevich said. "We're trying to figure out the consultant who helps us do the design work." Yarosevich said an overall architect/engineer will be retained before detailed planning can proceed.

"Sequencing an phasing of this is a pretty big project," said Project Awaysis Project Manager Mike Wilson. Wilson said developing the underground utilities infrastructure is but one of many items that must be resolved before construction can start. Geotechnical services are yet to be done as well, Wilson said.

Wilson said the city will be very careful with any archeological or environmental issues it might face.

"If you run into artifacts you have issues to deal with it," Wilson said. "We're also going to try to be sensitive to the environment."

Wilson said after asbestos removal at the Harbor House the city will take bids for demolition for the building which he estimated could be May or later. The city has the full cooperation and support of the DNR in the project, which helps the process tremendously.

"The DNR is working with us," Wilson said. "They're in tune with the project. They're in favor of the project."

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