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Answer Man: ‘Zumbro River Starts Here’ project extends through October

September 7, 2018

Dear Answer Man:

Over the summer, I watched the sidewalk east of Rochester’s Third Street parking ramp slowly change.

Each Thursday, as I watched bands perform nearby, I’d look at the project develop, expecting to see more by the time the weekly concerts were over, but the construction fence remains.

Will the work ever be completed, or will the fence still be blocking the path when bands return in the summer of 2019?

— Music lover and sidewalk user

Plans, like answers from anyone else, can be elusive.

“The Zumbro River Starts Here” stormwater demonstration project was originally scheduled to be done in early August, before the last notes left the stage for this year’s Thursdays on First and Third.

The plan hit an early sour note, however,

Like many local construction efforts these days, bids were higher than expected on the project with a $555,000 budget, which forced city staff to do some rethinking.

Finding ways to lower the costs delayed the effort, and weather complications didn’t help.

The project, which is being funded through a $300,000 federal grant and $255,000 in city matching funds, seeks to show how infrastructure and maintenance practices can help protect the environment amid development.

While delayed, some of the work on the project is expected to be completed this week, but some work will extend into next month.

Troy Erickson, water resource manager for Rochester Public Works, reports the site electrical work is set to be done as early as today and additional site work, including landscaping, should be done by Sept. 14.

In addition to the redesigned area, the pocket park will include educational signs and water effects to raise stormwater, as well as a water feature designed by Rochester native Jenna Didler

The water feature — a limestone stack artwork — is expected to be installed in mid-October, since needed rocks were delayed at the quarry.

Once the rocks are in place, associated electrical and plumbing pieces can be put in place, perhaps in late October, according to Erickson.

Once it’s all in place, the project will likely serve as an ideal backdrop to next year’s bands on the First Avenue stage, but the benefits could be seen by some long before that, since Public Works staff hopes it will show developers that protecting local waterways can be part of any urban project.

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