Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 18, 2000

LP plans to jump levy by 19% to replenish city's general fund

By Lynda Jensen

Adopting what the mayor described as a "bare bones budget" for 2001, the Lester Prairie City Council approved preliminary figures that reflected an increase from last year of $46,316 at its regular meeting last Monday.

The numbers may be lowered before the budget is officially adopted Dec. 6, however, they may not be increased. The council will reveiw each item individually before then.

The impact will be felt mainly by homeowners, since the increase for commercial property amounts to about two-tenths of a percent.

Street maintenance expenses from McLeod County Road 1 roadwork drained the city's general fund last year.

A new pumper for the fire department is also in the budget, which accounts for more than half of the increase.

"We don't think there's a lot of frill in it," Mayor Eric Angvall said.

Moving to other subjects, the council addressed about 10 people who attended the meeting to ask questions about potential development of 250 manufactured homes reported in the Aug. 28 issue of the Journal.

The small crowd expressed concern that the development had already ocurred and wondered if the newspaper would notify them in time.

Angvall assured them that no commitments were made and the process takes time.

"It will take many steps, many meetings," he said. "Notices will be made - neighbors notified. There will be plenty of opportunities to voice an opinion."

The Krienke land, which is actually owned by the late Irene Schmidt, sits on the northeast corner of McLeod County Road 9 and 185th St. The property is not inside city limits and there are no offers to annex or buy the property yet, Angvall said.

The council noted that many people appeared to have preconceived notions about manufactured homes. "There is a lot of judgement being passed without knowledge," council member Larry Hoof said. "Before we pursue the development, we will make sure it's right for the development of Lester Prairie," he said.

Later, the council viewed a 45-minute presentation by developer Rick Harrison who is interested in 95 acres of the Wroge property, situated on County Road 9 south of Lester Building Systems.

Harrison has done 20 percent of the development in Minnesota, he said. Cities with his developments include: Hutchinson (bay homes, which will not be built here),, Chaska, Chanhassen, Mankato, Minnetonka, St. Bonifacious, Kassan, and Savage, among several others.

Harrison gave several visual ideas of how the development would look, with a neighborhood that would contain curved roads and lots that were concave-shaped to keep costs down. The average lot size will be 15,200 square feet. All of the properties would be single family homes that would probably sell for between $115,000-175,000, Harrison said.

Planning and Zoning must approve the designs and setbacks submitted by Harrison before the development can move forward.

The council also gave accolades to PeopleService for performance of the city's wastewater treatment plant. "I think one of the better things that the council did was to sign you up," Angvall said.

It was also noted that Lester Prairie has a lot of iron in its water and that the wastewater treatment plant does not remove it, said Wastewater Treatment Operator Paul Christensen. "The city is doing all it can do," he said. Other factors that may aggravate the situation include home plumbing and filtration, if any. "The list goes on and on," he said.

Hydrants were flushed last week - something typically done to help get iron out of the system - although sometimes this contributes to complaints the morning after, Christensen said.

Council members also gave Christensen high marks for his work performance, since he was promoted to a different service area. Nevertheless, Christensen assured the council that he will not leave until the right person is hired and he would be available to them.

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