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The Village of Somerset hopes to receive a Community Development Block Grant to give Arnold Street residents the option to connect to village utilities. (Imagery©2014Google, Map data © 2014Google)

Village applies for grant to rehab Arnold Street

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The Somerset Village Board unanimously voted to apply for a Community Development Block Grant at its Tuesday, May 20, meeting, which would be used to give Arnold Street residents the option to connect to village utilities.

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Currently, eight households on Arnold Street, which is east of where Spring Street turns into Sunrise Drive, have private wells and septic systems, said Cedar Corporation engineer Rob Jones.

The federal grant money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and is administered by the states, Cedar Corporation senior planner Patrick Beilfuss said. The grant is available to communities with a population of fewer than 50,000 people, that has 51 percent or more of its residents considered low to moderate income. Somerset fits that requirement, Beilfuss said.

“This year, $16 million is available in Wisconsin,” Beilfuss said. “It’s never been that high before. I have high hopes the village will get funding.”

The grant is to be used for such projects as economic development, public facilities, streets or utilities, and housing.

Of the eligible projects on the Village Board’s wish list, the Arnold Street project made the most sense, Beilfuss said.

Jones said the project has been on the board’s project list for more than 20 years, but was cost prohibitive because of the elevation of the Arnold Street homes. Those homes are below the water and sewer lines on Main and Sunrise, so a pump station will need to be built.

“In the past, it was too hard to spread funding between a few residents,” Jones said. “The village could have financed the project itself, but would have had to assess costs to the residents. Without the grant the project would cost each household (on Arnold Street) $6,000 to 8,000.”

If the village is awarded the CDBG for public facilities, it will have to match the money received. The only cost to residents will be hooking up to village utilities, and any costs associated with county requirements of abandoning wells and septics.

Septic systems fall under county jurisdiction, even when they’re located in a municipality. If they are failing, they are required to be abandoned, Jones said. They must be inspected by the county every three years.

If the grant money is received, construction would begin in summer 2015, Jones said. Once completed, Arnold Street residents will have the option of hooking up to village water and sewer, at their leisure.

The village will provide the laterals to the right-of-way, Jones said. To connect to the village utilities, homeowners will have to work with a private contractor.

The project would entail installing new water mains with hydrants and fire protection, a gravity sewer, laterals to the rights-of-way, a small grinder pump station (a pump to take Arnold Street wastewater up the incline to the manhole at Main and Spring streets to attach to the gravity sewer system) and paving the street.

“The future expansion of Arnold Street is limited, so there will be no curb, gutter or improvements to the street,” Jones said. “We will keep it as is to lessen residents’ disturbance. We will match the surface as it sits today.”

One resident in attendance questioned whether the utility improvements would increase property values, therefore increasing taxes. The resident said curbs and gutters are deserved, as many of Arnold Street homeowners have been paying taxes for 30 to 40 years.

Village President Jeff Johnson said that most residents have expressed the wish to keep the disturbance to a minimum; plus adding curbs and gutters would require stormwater mitigation at the southern end of the street, which would take more land. Those additional costs would then be assessed to the residents.

Jones said word on the grant should be received by fall.

In other business

  •  A resolution was unanimously passed authorizing the submission of the CDBG application.
  •  A resolution was passed adopting a citizen participation plan for the CDBG.
  •  The board unanimously voted to confirm the Village Board as the citizen participation committee for the CDBG. The group will oversee the grant project and will provide the public opportunity to comment and express concerns.
  •  A resolution was passed adopting a residential anti-displacement and relocation assistance plan for the CDBG.
  •  A resolution was passed regarding the fair housing ordinance 6-1.
  •  The board passed a lobbying certification and statement of assurances, which appoints Johnson as the signer of documents and affirms the board didn’t hire someone on its behalf to lobby to the state for the CDBG.
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Sarah Young
Sarah Young joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News. She covers primarily Hammond, Roberts and Somerset. Previously she free-lanced for the River Falls Journal, Hudson Star-Observer, RiverTown special publications and the Superior Catholic Herald. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. Before working at the New Richmond News, she was an assistant manager at Philander's Grill & Bar in Prescott. She lives in Prescott with her husband Mike and daughter Carolina.  
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