Street Art Prior Lake 13/21

This rendering, provided by the city of Prior Lake, shows a rough idea of what a street art project will look like. The City Council voted to take the boat mast-like structures out of the highways 13 and 21 construction project.

Prior Lake plans to begin a major street and utility reconstruction of Northwood Road and to help widen County Road 42 under a 2020-2024 Street Reconstruction Plan adopted by the City Council this week.

The council approved the plan unanimously and with little discussion during a meeting Tuesday.

While the plan includes $200,000 for County Road 42 and $3 million in bonds for Northwood, each project will need another council vote before they begin, Finance Director Cathy Erickson said.

The Northwood proposal includes a full street and utility reconstruction from Knollridge Drive to Spring Lake Road to replace sanitary sewer lines, storm sewers, water mains, the street and the sidewalks.

The city’s role in the County Road 42 project is smaller, partnering with Shakopee and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community to widen the road to four lanes and add a center median and trail. Prior Lake’s portion of the project will extend between County Roads 83 and 17, later this year.

Meanwhile, a series of art installations planned for the median of County Road 21 appear to have hit a snag after council members questioned the design’s price tag.

The original streetscaping plans, proposed in 2018 as the aesthetic completion of work on County Road 21, created a nautically-themed welcome to the city with railings with images of waves and oars, 11 sailboat-mast-like lighting features, bollards at the crosswalks and a banner across the highway.

In June the council decided to remove the mast installation from the 21 project after bids for the project came in around $560,000.

“The cost came in way higher than what that (Downtown Character Advisory) committee had seen,” City Manager Jason Wedel told the council Tuesday.

Wedel said that estimates for a series of LED lights for the cables were nearing between $40,000 and $45,000 on their own. Without the lights, the masts are estimated to cost around $155,000.

Some council members said they felt dedicating that much money to the installation seemed irresponsible when the final bid on the county road project was over budget.

“For some reason this installation does not strike me as the right art installation for our community,” Councilman Kevin Burkart said. “This would be one piece, the only piece, that I would call out and go back to the community and say what do think about taking a different approach to this.”

Councilman Zach Braid and Mayor Kirt Briggs pushed the council to remember the community investment in the project.

“To reverse course would be disingenuous,” Braid said. “One of our main points in real estate is that if a city isn’t willing to invest in streetscaping, you better question about investing in them, because they won’t invest in themselves.”

The city will receive final bids on the median monuments in the first week of February. The project is set for reconsideration at the city’s Feb. 18 workshop.

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