June 11, 2007

Crossing medians might make lanes too narrow

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Another obstacle in the pursuit of a Quiet Zone in Dassel and Third Street improvements has developed.

The non-traversable curb medians to be installed on the centerlines of Third and Fourth Street crossings will make the lanes too narrow for farm production equipment. Fourth Street, which is also Meeker County Road 4, would have to be widened for a half block north of the railroad track. The railroad arm placements will have to be moved farther apart.

The quiet zone measures and Third Street improvements were estimated May 21 to cost a total of $88,000.

This expansion, however, would increase the cost of the project immensely, Chuck DeWolf of Bolton & Menk told the city council last Monday. The city might be able to make the center medians shorter, though, so the farm equipment could pass over the top of them. The medians don’t have to be 20-foot tall walls, he said.

No decision was made Monday, however, because the city and Meeker County are still discussing sharing the cost of the Fourth Street crossing, according to Ronald Mortensen, county highway engineer.

The non-traversable curb medians are needed so Dassel will qualify as a Quiet Zone. The medians are large concrete slabs that prevent vehicles from going around the crossing arms as they come down over the street when a train appoaches.

If the crossings have these safety measures, then the Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains won’t need to blow their horns whenever they come to a crossing. City residents have been complaining for months about the trains blowing their horns.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• heard a report from Liquor Store Manager Marvin Vetsch that liquor sales increased 11 percent in May. Import beers and wine have been the most profitable, he said.

• listened to a report from Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak that people who are not city residents have been dumping waste in the city’s compost site. He suggested asking Dassel Township for funds to help manage the site in the future.

• gave City Administrator Myles McGrath permission to create a job description and budget for a part-time administrative assistant position.

The new city employee will coordinate the city’s web site, local cable channel, newsletter, and community promotional tasks in conjunction with the Dassel Area Chamber of Commerce.

• noted that the population of Dassel increased to 1,315 in April 2006 from 1,286, according to the Minnesota State Demographer’s Office.

• heard a report from Sheriff’s Deputies Gordy Prochaska and Brian Massingham that Dassel had 87 calls for service in May. Most of the Todd Street trailer park has been cleaned up, and one of the two most troublesome residents is moving out, Prochaska said.

• listened to Massingham explain the Operation ID program. Valuables are marked with numbers recorded in the sheriff’s office. If the items are stolen and retrieved, even in another state, the items can be returned to their rightful owners because the numbers can be tracked back to Meeker County.

If residents want to participate in Operation ID, they may borrow the city’s engravers at city hall, Massingham said.

To access past and present minutes of city council meetings, go to the web site ci.dassel.mn.us or contact the city at (320) 275-2454.

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