On the Mark: Cromwell community makeover underway
June 3, 2022
If you’re driving east or west on Minnesota State Highway 210 between Carlton and McGregor over the next few weeks, you’ll be slowed down going through the city of Cromwell. A major makeover of the highway and storm sewer system is in progress, the first of several upgrades that include a better city park with a river walk, improved highway and park lighting, and better sidewalks.
Mayor Sharon Zelazny and her city council have worked hard on these projects over the past few years. While the Minnesota Department of Transportation is funding the majority of the Minnesota Highway 210 project since it is a state highway, the city of Cromwell approached the Department of Agriculture to help cost-share. Cromwell’s cost for the project is $426,215, which includes work on the water main, sanitary sewer and associated construction, and lighting and landscaping construction. Income from the city’s municipal liquor store also was used.
The city’s portion of the sewer makeover had to be paid ahead of time, demonstrating its commitment to the project prior to letting the bids. After the storm sewers are installed, the city will be blossoming with traffic-calming improvements, including boulevards with trees and new sidewalks, including alongside the Cromwell-Wright school.
“Our sidewalks have deteriorated; they are cracked and uneven. We’ll have new lighting and traffic-calming features to encourage our residents and visitors to walk,” Zelazny said.
She complimented MnDOT. “They work hard to communicate with us, and the current construction company has been very good.”
In addition to helping cover the city’s cost for the Highway 210 project, a USDA loan/grant will be used for additional upgrading utility work. The total USDA loan/grant is for $1.3 million, which the city will pay back $745,000 at a very low interest rate, amounting to about $26,000 in loan payments per year for 40 years. Zelazny said the city was able to take on this loan burden because over the last few years it has paid off three loans which amounted to approximately the same amount.
Improvements are also coming to the city’s Pavilion Park. A $110,000 grant was secured for improved drainage as well as a Department of Natural Resources grant for outdoor recreation improvements, including a riverwalk along the banks of the Tamarack River with educational signage, a new parking lot and shaded sitting areas close to the Kaleb Anderson memorial playground, and seasonal toilets. They plan to move the volleyball courts closer together and develop rain gardens. The DNR grant is a $177,560 award for outdoor recreation. The total DNR grant project is $355,119, but it was a 50/50 match. So these two grants, plus the match, mean that the city will be putting almost a half a million dollars into improvements for our park.
The detours for the 210 project are in place.
The mayor credits local and regional organizations for pitching in. Staff at the Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District wrote grants for the drainage projects, and a 50/50 match from the DNR helped as well. Local organizations that serve and use city facilities have pitched in, including the Cromwell Area Community Club, the YOT (Young OldTimers), the Riverside Drifters Saddle Club and the Kaleb Anderson memorial playground.
The city of Cromwell’s footprint is small, with an annual budget of around $130,000. “It would never have been possible if the city had to do it itself,” the mayor said.
“It’s a long overdue project, and quite inconvenient at this stage. We’re asking for patience — and we believe people will be so pleased with the results.”
Columnist Ann Markusen is a Pine Knot board member. She lives in Red Clover Township north of Cromwell.