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Hospital gets a makeover, now the street will get a redo

Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously approved two street projects near Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) and Raiter Clinic, much to the relief of residents Phil and Goldie Demers.

Intersection now
The intersection of Skyline Boulevard, Pearl Street and the parking lot entry to Community Memorial Hospital will get reconfigured this summer. Contributed Photo
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Cloquet City Councilors and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren unanimously approved two street projects near Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) and Raiter Clinic, much to the relief of residents Phil and Goldie Demers.

During the formal Council meeting Tuesday evening, the Council unanimously approved the complete reconstruction of Skyline Boulevard -- which runs in front of CMH from Highway 33 up to Pearl Street -- as well as resurfacing Arthur Street from Skyline Boulevard to North Road.

Assistant City Engineer Caleb Peterson told officials and citizens in the Council Chambers that the primary reason for the projects is the poor pavement conditions on both roads.

The Demers couldn't agree more.

"We're very happy [about the street projects]," said Goldie Demers after the meeting, noting that Arthur Street is in pretty rough shape. "We get all the buses and quite a bit of traffic down that street."

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Skyline Boulevard is the main access road to the hospital, clinic and Churchill Elementary School (which is a short drive down Arthur, while the other two actually abut Skyline Boulevard). The divided road will look mostly the same after the project is complete. It will still feature a 28-foot-wide center median, plus it will have sidewalks on both sides of the road (currently there are sidewalks only on the south side of the road, and only as far as the hospital entrance). The intersection of Skyline, Pearl and the hospital parking lot access road at the top of Skyline also will be reconfigured.

Initially estimated at $465,000, engineering staff found that the scope of the project grew substantially as they began actually planning because of additional costs for subgrade correction, groundwater drainage, storm sewer improvements, additional sidewalk work, work on the rear access road (a city-owned road) to the hospital and the addition of a water main on Arthur.

Peterson said the plans include installing a larger 8-inch diameter water main on one block of Arthur from Skyline to Jasper Street. In the future, he said, the idea is to extend a larger water line down Jasper east into the Sunnyside neighborhood to improve water flow in the case of fire.

The engineering department put the new project price tag at closer to $875,000.

The bulk of the money for the street projects would come from different city and state funds, with property owners along Skyline paying an estimated $55,000 in assessments. Skyline hasn't been rebuilt since the 1960s. Residents along Arthur, however, paid assessments when the road was rebuilt in the 1980s and it is not a reconstruction project, so Peterson said Arthur Street property owners would not be assessed.

In other matters Tuesday, the Council and Mayor took the following actions:

- Unanimously approved a conditional use permit (CUP) to allow Pioneer Recovery Center to set up a residential chemical dependency treatment center for women in the former Regional Realty building located at 241 Highway 33 North. The permit allows multiple family housing in the regional (highway) commercial district.

"The facility would be an approved use if not for the overnight accommodation," City Planner Al Cottingham told the Council, explaining that the addiction treatment center could house up to 24 women under the terms of the permit. Cottingham said the Cloquet Planning Commission recommended approval of the CUP following a public hearing the week before.

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Pioneer Director Jennifer Nyakundi said Pioneer treats only adult women, and specializes in treating women with some history of trauma. The program is culturally specific to Native Americans but serves all populations of women. All clients are admitted voluntarily and the treatment period generally ranges from 30 to 90 days.

Nyakundi said the building is perfect for their treatment center, which is moving to Cloquet from Aurora, Minn. Nearly half of their clients already come from Cloquet and Duluth, she added. The 10 offices will be remodeled into bedrooms, with some bathrooms added and other minor remodeling.

Nyakundi said Pioneer staff hopes to be open for business in June or July.

- Approved a new Solid Waste and Recycling Collector's license for Knight Garbage Services, Inc., operating out of Floodwood, Minn.

- Gave preliminary approval to selling issuance of Housing Facilities Revenue Bonds for Evergreen Knoll, basically a refinancing of previously issued bonds to help HADC Cloquet take advantage of lower interest rates. The amount of the bond sale would be between $9.5 and $10.5 million.

"The city is simply acting as a conduit [for the sale]," City Administrator Brian Fritsinger explained. "Cloquet taxpayers could not be held responsible in any way [if the company failed to make its bond payments]."

Fritsinger said the final vote on the bond sale is set for the April 16 City Council meeting.

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