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McClatchy-Tribune  07/08/2014 12:50 PM ET
City to help business with water damage; Hardy Geranium dealing with leaks since Austin removed Oakland bridges [Austin Daily Herald, Minn. :: ]

July 08--The city of Austin may pay half the cost to help the Hardy Geranium with water in its basement

The Austin City Council preliminarily approved $4,145 during its work session Monday to help Vicki Trimble and the Hardy Geranium.

Trimble approached the council last year after she experienced water coming into her basement in the southwest corner over the past few years. She said the basement didn't used to have issues before the city removed a viaduct when it removed the Oakland Avenue bridges several years ago. Since then, Trimble said she gets water in her basement every summer.

"It starts when the frost leaves and it doesn't stop until the frost comes back again," she told the council.

Council Member Steve King pushed the council to help Hardy Geranium as he believed the business was affected by the city's work.

"This is not a part of the flood issue," King said. "It seems to me that this is something that happened because of the city."

Other council members argued they had seen water in the building's basement before, but Trimble said she had contacted previous owners who all verified the basement didn't take on water before.

Public Works Director Steven Lang expressed concern with the city's involvement. According to Lang, the city is supposed to help residents deal with surface water issues from flooding under its mitigation efforts. Though other residents from areas near the Turtle Creek have asked the city for help with water seeping into their basement, the city doesn't have a program to help in those instances.

King argued this situation was unique in that it appeared to be caused, in part, by city construction. The rest of the council agreed, and approved money out of its contingency fund to pay for half the cost of a project to fix the issue.

The council will formally approve funding at its next public meeting.

--The council preliminarily approved a finalized contract with Hormel Foods Corp. and the Austin Port Authority to move the Spam Museum downtown.

The agreement stipulates several contingencies each side must complete. The port authority agrees to raze and remove the existing structures on the former downtown fire site property between Second and Fourth Avenues on the east side of Main Street, remove hazardous material and backfill the land with the exception of one or two lots which still has footings from previous businesses.

The city of Austin agreed to reopen Third Avenue Northeast as well as provide bus and RV parking to the east of the Spam Museum's proposed location.

The city also agreed to allow Hormel Foods Corp. move its famous pig statue to the downtown site as well.


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