MINDEN — From downtown sidewalks to water and sewer improvements to street paving Minden residents have seen activity in several parts of town this summer. Most of the infrastructure work should be wrapping up this fall.
The city of Minden received a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant for downtown revitalization from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to implement commercial rehabilitation, public facility improvements and removal of architectural barriers to the city’s downtown buildings and infrastructure. The city’s matching contribution was $150,000.
“With our unique square, the city was extremely excited to make some improvements,” said Matthew Cederburg, Minden’s city administrator and finance director.
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After walking through the square with engineers from Miller and Associates, it was suggested to replace the entire sidewalk on Colorado Avenue from Fourth to Fifth streets. Construction on the $500,000 project began in mid-June, and it was not without its challenges.
“The whole sidewalk was very difficult because those are 100-year-old buildings. The elevation of each building is not perfect. That required ramps to go in on the sidewalks. We made the sidewalk wider. I just walked on it this morning, and I think it looks great,” Cederburg said.
The city of Minden was concerned about the effect the construction would have on local businesses, but the contractors worked with each business to accommodate them as best as possible, Cederburg said.
“We were fortunate that the engineers designed the contract so the concrete contractor had five to seven days to get the front of that business done. They did a tremendous job of accomplishing that feat,” he said.
Some of the businesses on the block had alternate entrances customers could use during the construction, and the owners were all accommodating, Cederburg added.
The sidewalks on the four corners of the square currently are getting ADA ramps, and there is also infrastructure improvements to the water and sewer systems downtown. Proper valves and fire hydrants are being installed to improve fire protection and to shut off water in case of an emergency.
Street improvements are a common sight in Minden this year. The city currently has an 18-block street paving project taking place on Holland, Campbell, Eighth and 10th streets. Many of the streets were deteriorating and needed the pavement replaced, Cederburg said. Tenth Street was added to the project due to a new car wash being built in the area. They are also fixing the storm water drainage system on Eighth Street, and other additions and changes popped up during the road work.
“Along with 18 blocks, they were replacing some water mains underneath because they are so ancient and so old. When you rip it up unfortunately now is your time to do it.
"They had some water main replacement on Campbell and Holland and some marginal street light improvements. I know those residents have put up with a lot of road issues, and hopefully this will bring it to an end,” Cederburg said.
The road work began in June and is expected to wrap up by the beginning of October. A wet, rainy summer has caused some delays. The project is being funded by a bond that the city is extending. The initial bond passed in 2007, and city council chose to pay interest only to keep the rates flat until the current bond was paid off. The payments on the current project will be paid until 2028-29, Cederburg explained. The project will cost about $1.7 million.
Road and sidewalk work is not the only improvements taking place in Minden. The city received a $20,00 grant from the Nels and Lucille Winther Foundation to remodel the bandshell at Chautauqua Park that dates back to the 1930s. The stage was extended in order to make the structure a dual-purpose building.
“The new thing now is to have a shelter so people can picnic out there and relax, and we wanted to be able to put picnic tables up there so folks can relax but also have outdoor events when the time arises,” Cederburg said.
The city also was awarded a $17,000 grant from the Winther Foundation for the next fiscal year to replace the bathrooms at the park. The long-term plan for the park is to replace the grass and sidewalks, and eventually apply for grants to have a splash pad installed at the park.
“That would just be a beautiful place, a very nice park. We are excited, and everything takes time,” Cederburg said.