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City to move huge dirt pile near SuperValu

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

For more than a year, a massive pile of dirt has sat on the north end of the Jim’s SuperValu strip mall in northeast Austin.

The city’s Housing & Redevelopment Authority, which sold the former railroad roundhouse property to owner Jim Baldus and the adjacent Eagles Club, now will be taking care of the dirt pile for which it’s responsible.

On Monday, the HRA had a special meeting in which it unanimously accepted a low bid of about $87,900 to remove the dirt mound by using it to fill an old storm-water retention pond just south of the SuperValu development.

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"It needs to be done," said Jim Hurm, the city administrator and head of the HRA.

A new retention pond then will be created closer to Oakland Place Southeast at the former SuperValu site, officials said.

SuperValu and the Eagles have agreed to transfer their responsibility from the old pond to the new one; they won’t have to pay for its creation, Hurm said.

Jim Baldus, owner of Jim’s SuperValu, said in an interview Monday that he’s glad the city will be taking care of the dirt pile.

"It’s just an eyesore," Baldus said.

Last year, SuperValu reopened at its new building on Oct. 16. The old SuperValu took in floodwater in the floods of 2000 and 2004.

Hansen Hauling & Excavation of the Austin area will do the project this year.

The bid was much lower than initial expectations of up to $160,000, Hurm said.

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency tested the dirt from the old roundhouse and said it could remain on site but shouldn’t be hauled away, Hurm said. The MPCA, though, said there was no problem with the dirt that was hauled out prior to its testing, he said.

The HRA hopes to pay itself back for the project by getting special legislation passed next year that allows it to use revenue from the SuperValu site’s tax-increment financing district, Hurm said.

The MPCA will need to give final approval to the project’s plans.

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