Dear All-Knowing Answer Man: As I take my daily walk along the Zumbro River, I have witnessed heavy construction activity behind City Hall along Third Avenue Southeast since last spring. But, over the past two weeks a deluxe "tree house" has been erected next to a giant crane.
Is this perhaps the new clubhouse to replace the stuffy, old council chambers? -- Puzzled
Puzzled: During your daily walks, you might have also noticed the sidewalk and a portion of the street has been closed near the mystery structure.
It’s all part of an ongoing sewer project aimed at improving service to the area, including the city-county Government Center. The temporary construction is in place to keep the outside elements at bay.
As I noted last month, the $6.5 million project, which started May 2018 on First Avenue Southeast, ran into snags related to groundwater concerns that delayed efforts.
Now, the city has been using a micro-tunneling machine to bore under the Zumbro River, according to an email Deputy Public Works Director Wendy Turri recently sent one of my minions.
The machine pumps water to help tunnel through sand and gravel. Since it uses a lot of water and must be protected from freezing, the city’s contractor built the plywood and plastic enclosure so the area could be heated as work continues amid dropping temperatures.
Turri said the structure is expected to be removed once the boring is complete, but work is expected to continue through most of next year.
In the spring, the contractor is expected to start work west of First Avenue extending the project toward Broadway Avenue, which will again restrict traffic to a westbound-only lane on Second Street, likely through August.
The project, which has also included closure of streets west and south of the Rochester Public Library, was originally scheduled to be completed in July.
Sing for your supper
In Monday's meaty column, I mentioned several restaurants that have come and gone, but I failed to answer Kris from Kasson. She wanted to know the name of the eatery that once occupied the space that is now Twigs and featured singing waiters and waitresses.
Not to fear, the Answer Man's mighty army of readers was there to catch the plate before it hit the floor.
Jack Schmidt was among those to set the record straight.
"That restaurant was called 'First Class,'" he wrote. "My wife was one of those singing waitresses.
"Bonus fact. Craig Wold played piano at First Class. He is the son of former JM boys basketball coach and legend, Al Wold. (Al coached the 1969 Rockets to the state championship.)"