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School Board President Tom Holland addresses the Hudson City Council Monday night.
School Board President Tom Holland addresses the Hudson City Council Monday night.

City will explore extending utilities to UU school property

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Hudson City Council is open to the possibility of extending water and sewer service to a potential school site on County UU east of the city, the members said Monday night. But a variety of things could stand in the way of it, they also agreed.

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At the end of the discussion, the council voted to continue to explore the possibility, with the understanding that the school district would pay for a potential engineering feasibility study and request the utility extensions in writing.

After meeting with a smaller group of city officials on April 12, School Board President Tom Holland brought his inquiry to the full council Monday night.

His central question was the same one he presented earlier. Is the city willing to work with the school district on extending utilities to the 110-acre site?

Holland said the school board has always known it is possible to put a school on the UU site, but without being connected to city water and sewer service, the school could serve only 700 students.

He said the Board of Education is considering schools of various sizes and types to build, including one that could serve up to 2,000 students.

Since the district already owns the County UU land, it is the first option for a school site, Holland said.

While the property is 110 acres in size, a previous engineering study indicated that steep slopes and wetlands make 40 to 50 acres of it unusable for a school.

Dennis Darnold, the city's community development director, repeated a list of obstacles to the utility extensions that he told city and school officials about at the April 12 meeting.

"There are current city policies that address utility extensions," Darnold said. "It isn't simply throwing all our policies and ordinances out the window and saying, we're going to do this."

He said it is also questionable whether it is technically feasible to extend water and sewer service the roughly three-fourths of a mile to the school property.

"I don't see a concern about cooperating at this time," but there are other questions that remain, too, Darnold said. For example, who would pay for the engineering feasibility study?

He said the city also needed a letter from the school district formally requesting the utility extension.

An ordinance that prohibits the city from extending utilities to properties outside its boundaries would have to be amended for water and sewer service to be brought to the UU property.

Mayor Alan Burchill said the city would have to investigate whether it is possible to allow utility extensions for some uses, such as schools, and not others.

"Can we limit it to only schools?" he asked. "We can change the ordinance, but we don't want to start extending it for other things."

Darnold said St. Croix County and the town of Hudson also would need to sign off on the utility extensions.

"It seems like we have some legal issues to solve first," said City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick.

Alderperson Mary Yacoub said it would best to hold off on the potentially expensive engineering study until the city gets its questions answered about the possibility of extending services outside its boundaries.

"We would need to wait until you feel like you are ready," Holland said of undertaking the engineering study.

Darnold indicated that Foth Infrastructure & Environment, the city's consulting engineering firm, would be contracted to do the study.

Council President Rich Vanselow made the motion to further explore the possibility of extending utilities to the school property.

Vanselow said the city has been looking for opportunities to cooperate with other government bodies, and working with the district to solve school overcrowding is one of those opportunities.

"We're both trying to build a better community," Vanselow said.

His motion was seconded by Alderperson John Hoggatt and carried on a voice vote with no one opposing it.

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Hudson Star Observer 715-386-9891 customer support
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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