Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 15, 2000

Recreational fires may be allowed in LP

By Jane Otto

LESTER PRAIRIE - "A group of friends can be sitting in their backyard around a fire, having a good time, and I have to tell them, 'No, you can't do that,'" said Police Chief Fred Blaser at the Lester Prairie City Council meeting last Monday.

Soon though, Blaser will no longer need to "put the fire out" at friendly get-togethers about town.

The council has been in the process of updating its open burning ordinance to take into consideration recreational fires that are becoming more commonplace.

"You can buy portable pits at Menards for just that purpose," said council member Larry Hoof.

Recreational fires are already allowed in Minnetonka and other metro suburbs, said Blaser.

"As long as trash isn't being burnt or it's not a 12-foot bonfire, I don't have a problem with it. It would be a nice gesture on the part of the council to allow them," Blaser said.

Hoof has been talking to neighboring communities to get some guidelines for recreational fires.

He suggested that open fires should be in either permanent pits dug in the yard or portable units. Pits should be no bigger than 36 inches across and no more than 18 inches deep. Hoof said some type of screen will also be necessary to control sparks.

Council member Rose Halloran said that the ordinance should state how close to the property line a fire could be so it doesn't bother neighbors.

"A 10-foot setback is a good idea and also might prevent some calls," said Blaser.

The council agreed that once the ordinance is passed, it should be reviewed yearly to see if any changes are necessary.

"It's something that could be great as long as it's not abused," said Halloran.

Jump in the pool

Whether or not the Lester Prairie city pool will open Monday, June 5 remains to be seen.

One reason for a potential delay is that the pool needs to be painted yet. The pool has been sandblasted and readied for painting. The pool must be dry to paint, and any rain sets the painting time back a bit, said Mayor Eric Angvall.

After the first coat is applied, the paint needs to dry for two to three days before a second coat can be added. The paint then needs to cure for one week before the pool can be filled with water, Angvall said.

Timing may be tight, but the June 5 opening date is still possible, he added.

Angvall pointed out that this is some of the best prep work done on the pool in a long time.

At the time of the council meeting, the city was having trouble finding a painter. It has since been learned from a park board member that Earl Heldt has agreed to paint the pool.

As for pool staffing, City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said a manager and lifeguards have been hired. Halloran, who serves on the park board, will soon hire the remaining staff.


Parents double-parked while waiting to pick up their children from the elementary school has become a serious problem, said Blaser.

The elementary principal told him there has been a few close calls, he added.

Blaser, also a school board member, asked the council if five parking spots could be a designated loading and unloading zone.

The zone would be from the elementary doors to the bike rack. Blaser said persons using the zone would have to remain with their vehicle and could occupy the spot for only five minutes.

A loading zone could probably not be accomplished until next school year, said Pawelk. Signs would need to be posted and memos sent to all parents. With only two weeks of school left, Pawelk said that would be difficult to accomplish.

"Someone at the school should instruct people how to park," said council member Rollie Bruckschen.

Angvall said the issue could be discussed at the May 22 joint meeting with the school board. He asked Blaser to instruct the school board to have ready, for the council to review, a letter that would inform parents of a future loading and unloading zone in front of the school.

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