Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, April 24, 2000

Winsted city hall debate continues

By Jane Otto

The old city hall issue has graced Winsted City Council agendas for some time now, and Tuesday's agenda was no exception.

Due to a pending injunction, the Winsted Preservation Society has filed against the city, Mayor Floyd Sneer told the group that the League of Minnesota Cities attorney advised the council not to discuss city hall business with the society unless it concerns a new idea.

Mary Wiemiller, representing the preservation society, asked if a small committee could meet outside a public forum. The committee could consist of architects Jason Weinbeck, Jeanne Sterner and Joe Metzler; two council members with opposing views, and two unbiased persons.

She said the committee could address the issue of space needs in the city hall without building an addition and then have the city engineer review its findings. An addition, she said, seems to be what is driving up the costs.

City Administrator Aaron Reeves said it may be more helpful if only the architects and engineer met and presented their findings to the council at its May 16 meeting.

The preservationists' concern is the possible demolition of city hall. However, the city cannot demolish the old city hall until after the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) is approved, which Reeves said will be Wednesday, May 3.

The next meeting at which the council could award the demolition bid is May 16. Reeves said that a special meeting would have to be called for the council to accomplish that prior to May 16 and that would be unlikely.

"Let's get the experts together and then, have them get back to us," said Reeves.

On the advice of the preservationists' attorney, Virginia Housum of Dorsey and Whitney, Wiemiller asked for some assurance that the building would not be demolished in the interim.

Both council member Jeff Albers and Lenz said that they wouldn't attend any special meetings.

Housum then stood up and told the council that the injunction hearing was set for April 27, but that she will ask the judge to wait until after the May 16 council meeting.

Luce Line Trail

Presently, the Luce Line Trail ends at County Road 9 in Winsted and doesn't pick up until about a quarter mile west of County Road 1, behind Millerbernd Manufacturing.

In order to connect the trail, the DNR is asking for a right-of-way through city property and an easement over an existing city easement on the south side of the wastewater treatment plant.

The trail would run along the south and west perimeter of the treatment plant, the south edge of the city's industrial park, and then, across County Road 1 and through Fred Entinger's property, said Joe DeJaeger of the DNR.

The DNR is in the process of purchasing property from Entinger, however, there would still be a small gap in the trail behind Millerbernd Manufacturing before it meets the existing trail, DeJaeger added.

One monkey wrench in the project, said Sneer, is the industrial park. In the future, there may be a need for expansion.

Reeves said there could be wording in the contract that would require the DNR to move the trail if the city needed to expand.

In that case, it needs to be clear that this is not a permanent agreement, Eggert advised.

"If you revoke your right to terminate the agreement, you don't want to have to pay the DNR $100,000, if that is the kind of money they put into it," said Eggert.

The agreement should also have a legal description, he added.

Overall, the council had no major problems with extending the trail. DeJaeger will return at a later time with a reworded trail agreement.

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