HJ-ED-DHJ

May 21, 2007

County denies Winsted four-way stop on McLeod Co. Rd. 1

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Emotions were fairly intense at Tuesday’s Winsted City Council meeting when numerous residents heard McLeod County Engineer John Brunkhorst deny a four-way stop at the intersection of Main Avenue West and McLeod County Road 1 because there were not enough accidents recorded in a 12-month time frame.

According to Brunkhorst, the county makes recommendations based on consistent criteria that is used as guidelines. Besides not having the required number of accidents, County Road 1 has no obstructions, the road is not too narrow, and the volume of traffic does not warrant a reduction in speed, or a four-way stop, Brunkhorst said.

The county findings were backed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, according to Brunkhorst.

Brunkhorst made it clear that the county board had the ultimate authority regarding County Road 1.

This is the third request made to McLeod County by the City of Winsted to control the traffic and to make crossing County Road 1 safer for pedestrians.

The first request was made by the city June 5, 2003 asking for a four-way stop at County Road One and Main Avenue, a pedestrian crosswalk, turn lanes and passing lanes at major intersections, as well as a speed reduction from 45 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour.

A second request was made Aug. 4, 2006 for a speed reduction from 45 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour, and was also denied.

Council Member Bonnie Quast was the first to respond to Brunkhorst’s statement. She questioned the state’s authority to make a decision on something as menial as a stop sign, based on the number of people hurt.

“We are looking for the safety of our citizens and we are asking for your help,” Quast said.

Lenora Kubasch informed Brunkhorst that there are 18 businesses that use McLeod County Road 1 south of Main Avenue and 12 businesses north of Main Avenue.

She also invited anyone present who questioned the need for speed reduction and a four-way stop to come to her home and see the traffic she sees every morning and afternoon on County Road 1.

Bruce Gatz, living in Westgate, brought his two young children who he worries about crossing County Road 1.

Angie Jagodzinski, living in Grass Lake, wanted to know how they were to enjoy the new lakefront promenade or to participate in other community festivities when it is impossible for them to cross the street to town.

McLeod County had already applied for and received grant funds to install a signalized crosswalk at Main Avenue and County Road 1. It is scheduled to be installed in June or July of this year, according to Brunkhorst.

Ernie Meyers, owner of Ernie’s Bar and Grill on the corner of Main and County Road 1, felt that unless the speed is lowered on County Road 1, “It would be almost like putting a crosswalk on Highway 7.”

Police Chief Mike Henrich recommended that the intersection of Main Avenue West and County Road 1 have a four-way stop.

“The placement of a lit crosswalk will not eliminate the speed of approaching cars. Even if the speed for this road was reduced to a 35 mile per hour zone, pedestrians in the crosswalk would be taking their own lives in their hands just to cross the road.”

The council is not letting what it feels is an important safety issue for area residents be put off. It decided that the city’s next step should be getting on the agenda for the next county meeting.

City Administrator Brent Mareck will send another letter to the county, asking them once again for the four-way stop and reduction in speed to 35 miles per hour from the Winsted trailer park area to Vitran.

Winsted’s historic city hall is in the news again

Todd Colonna, owner of the historic city hall, was asked by the council at its April 3 meeting to submit a monthly progress report and provide a work record to the council in May, but he has not been heard from, according to Mareck.

Mareck also said that multiple phone calls made to Colonna to assist someone in renting the city hall were not returned.

Council Member Tom Ollig felt it was time for the council to ask City Attorney Fran Eggert what options the city would have in taking the building back.

Eggert was going to try to contact Colonna’s attorney from last year. Just contacting the attorney, Eggert felt might open up possible options on transferring the title back.

He will give a progress report of his findings at the next meeting.

Todd and his wife, Kelly, purchased the historic city hall from the City of Winsted October 2001.

Part of the purchase and renovation agreement signed by the Colonnas had reverter clauses which, if not followed, would revert ownerhip of the building back to the City of Winsted, according to information handed out by Mareck at the April 17 council meeting.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• authorized the hiring of Breana Kroll as a part-time police officer.

• authorized the issuance and sale of industrial development revenue bonds from the Department of Employment and Economic Development for AAA Galvanizing of Minnesota.

• agreed to the purchase of property for the lakefront promenade from Glenn and Mary Ehrke in the amount of $1,803.

• agreed to the purchase of property for the lakefront promenade from Darrell and Gladys Lachermeier in the amount of $8,600.

• repealed the need to have a permit for outdoor/recreational fires. The fire department has found the permitting process to be difficult to administer, and that the regulations can be upheld without a formal permit process.

• approved an amendment to the water/sewer billing estimates for unusually high meter readings.

All large utility bills generated from negligence are the responsibility of the property owner and owed to the City of Winsted.

The city will waive the fee if the property owner is not negligent, identifies the cause of a water leak, and repairs any faulty equipment related to the water leak.

The city will evaluate the property owner’s utility bill on an individual basis, and account history will be taken into consideration.

• authorized John Schlechter to farm vacant property owned in the Winsted Industrial Park in exchange for keeping the property free and clear of weeds and high grass.

• authorized the removal of asbestos materials from the old public works site by Abatement Specialties for $5,250.

• awarded the bid for the demolition of the old public works building to Wright Excavating for $35,000.

• authorized Winsted NAPA to close a section of Second Street South Friday, July 20, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. for a monster truck promotion event.

In other business:

• Mareck reported that Xcel Energy was contacted about an area of poor street lighting in Westgate. Excel is trying a stronger bulb to see if that will improve the problem.

• Mareck commended State Representative Ron Shimanski’s initiative in getting legislation needed through the state for the city hall and lakefront promenade. The bill has made it through the House, but still needs to go through the Senate.

• Glen and Betty Diers asked to have some additional landscaping done by Kingsley lift station. Diers suggested a fence. The council is considering painting the lift station.


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