Dassel group asks for dirt access to become a street

May 12, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel will find out from the property owner and MnDOT how to turn a dirt access at the south end of Martin Estates into a public street with proper turn lanes from Trunk Highway 15.

A group of residents from the Martin Estates area asked the city council last Monday why drivers are not allowed to use the access, which might have been a field approach long ago, before the area was developed.

The dirt access between Martin Estates and the highway is owned by Lakeview Ranch. John Dahl has a temporary easement to use the access for his construction business.

At the April 21 council meeting, Council Member Bob Wilde warned residents that drivers who use the access as a short cut to the highway risk getting a ticket from the Minnesota Highway Patrol.

Seymour Peterson, spokesman for the group and former Dassel mayor in 1954-55, said he and the other Circle View Drive area residents thought Wilde meant drivers will be ticketed for trespassing.

City Administrator Myles McGrath pointed out last Monday, however, that Highway 15 doesn’t have turn lanes to and from the high-speed traffic into the dirt access.

“It’s quite hazardous to anyone using it as a street,” McGrath said.

Putting turn lanes into a state highway is very expensive. Who will want to pay for them, McGrath asked.

Council Member Wayne Medcraft pointed out that there is a proposal to widen Highway 15 into four lanes from Interstate 90 to Interstate 94. It is possible MnDOT won’t allow turn lanes from a four-lane state highway to a residential street, he said.

The city council agreed, however, to check with the property owner about transferring the land to the city, how much it will cost to construct a street and turn lanes, how long the easement Dahl has with Lakeview Ranch will last, and whether MnDOT will approve turn lanes there.

Seymour said if a train stops on the tracks in Dassel and there is an emergency at the same time, firefighters and law enforcement officers will need the access to get around the train.

Wilton Anderson of Dassel also said he remembered the fire department had the same problem responding to Lake Washington area fires when a train was stopped on the tracks and blocking access. Firefighters used a back-door type of access to get to the scene then also, Anderson said.

Anderson added, though, that if there is a problem, it can be solved.

Dan Revard of Dassel asked if Lakeview Ranch sells the two platted lots on each side of the dirt access, will those property owners be responsible for paying for the construction of the street and turn lanes. The council then decided to get more information from the city engineer and MnDOT.

Odds and ends

In other business, the city council:

• bought playground equipment, including climbers, slide, and an exercise station, for Breeds Park from Miracle of Hastings for $11,086 with free shipping. The equipment was already budgeted, according to Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak.

• heard a report from Meeker County Deputy Bill Hudson that one of the two problem trailers in the Todd Street mobile home court has been demolished. Also, live-trapping the cats roaming the court has reduced their numbers significantly, he said.

• directed Wilde to advise the farmer who inquired about renting the land being considered by Spectralytics, to contact city hall. Spectralytics is still finalizing its developer’s agreement, so the farmer will have time to get a crop from the land, McGrath said.

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