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City Council seeks stimulus money for projects

New Richmond officials are hopeful that federal stimulus money will be made available for several local projects.

Two projects have a decent chance of gaining support, according to Robert Barbian, the city's director of planning and community development.

In a report to the New Richmond City Council Monday night, Barbian said the community has applied for monies to help with the reconstruction of North Fourth Street from Highway 64 to 65.

The 4,000-foot project carries a $985,000 price tag for road work and $453,000 for related utility work.

Another project is the extension of the city's trail system so that pedestrians and bicyclists can travel from Wal-Mart to the downtown dam. The community is seeking $297,000 in federal funds for the plans, but the city would be required to pay for the reconstruction of Dakota Avenue (at a cost of $450,000) to complete the proposal.

A third application was submitted to the federal government, but Barbian said it's unlikely to receive backing. The proposal would make safety enhancements to the County Road CC and Highway 64 intersection. Barbian said that project is probably not far enough along to accomplish by the deadlines established by the federal stimulus package.

Barbian told the council that he hopes to hear if the city received funding by the end of May. If the community receives funding, Barbian said the projects would likely be completed by the end of the year.

In other business:

• Is the New Richmond City Council's work with the Governmental Entities Network worth the time being spent?

That's the question posed by Alderman Jane Hansen, in response to a motion to appoint council representatives to the group of area officials meeting to discuss issues of importance to the region.

"Have we made any progress?" she asked, noting that the issues the group has been discussing for a year have yet to be resolved.

Mayor David Schnitzler said the organization, which has no decision-making power, is getting close to recommending significant proposals to the various councils and boards represented.

Alderman Jim Zajkowski said despite the lack of concrete action, the work of the network has been valuable.

"We're all talking, if nothing else," he said. "And we're trying to get on the same page."

Schnitzler, City Administrator Dennis Horner, Zajkowski and Alderman Fred Horne were appointed to the network as the city's representatives.

Hansen suggested the representatives report to the council on a monthly basis to keep everyone in the loop.

• The council approved a motion to pay police officer John Schuette the difference between his New Richmond salary and his pay as a new National Guard soldier while he is training for the next six months. The council also decided to support the officer with continued benefits during the time he's gone.

Schnitzler said the city wants to support those employees who volunteer to serve the country. The support package is similar to what other communities and businesses offer, he noted.