Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 25, 2002

Businesses work through Hwy. 7 road construction

By Julie Yurek

Road construction is a necessary evil.

Motorists and business owners cringed at the thought of a Highway 7 closure, but knew it would be worth it in the end.

This summer's construction of Hwy. 7 from St. Bonifacius to Excelsior was to widen shoulders, add turn lanes, and replace a bridge.

Area business owners had to deal with the side effects, and for some it meant a loss of customers.

"We put a lot more miles on the vehicles and added to the delivery time," said Fred Holasek, owner of Fred Holasek and Son Greenhouses in Lester Prairie.

The added mileage caused some expense to the greenhouse, he said.

However, he didn't notice any real drop in business, he added.

They may be facing more construction again in the near future.

The next portion of the project, from Silver Lake to St. Boni, is aimed to begin in 2006.

As for the projected Hwy. 7 construction, Holasek hasn't had much time to think it over, he said.

"I do think they need to do something about the intersection of Hwy 7 and County Road 9," he said. "But it's not part of the plan right now," he was told by Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) representatives.

One business that was affected greatly by the construction this summer was ShadowBrooke Golf Course, which is on Hwy. 7.

"It killed us," said Tom Schmidt, owner. "It was our worst year ever."

More than half of ShadowBrooke customers come on Hwy. 7. They draw golfers from the western suburbs and Twin Cities area, he said.

There is also good support from customers in Hutchinson and the local areas like Lester Prairie and Winsted, but the majority of business comes from the metro area, he said.

The project is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving, according to Mn/DOT.

However, additional work may be needed in the spring, which would interfere again with golfing, Schmidt said.

ShadowBrooke will survive this and continue to serve golfers in the area, he said.

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