By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN The spotlight is back on Winsted again much like it was four years ago.
That was when the city first began making plans to improve its downtown area with a new city center, lakefront promenade and an amphitheater.
This time the spotlight will focus on the rewards of that labor.
The City of Winsted will be hosting a grand opening and dedication of its new city hall Thursday, Oct. 16 from 4 to 8 p.m.
To celebrate the grand opening, next week’s Herald Journal will feature a special tab, for Winsted residents, dedicated to the City of Winsted.
The tab will feature numerous photos of Winsted’s history as well as a chronological list of milestones for the town, plus details about the grand opening.
The opening ceremony is scheduled in front of city hall at 4 p.m., beginning with a song by a piper from Macalester Bagpipe Band. The ceremony will end with a ribbon cutting.
At 5 p.m., tours will be given of the new city hall and a bagpipe concert will be performed at the amphitheater in Mill Reserve Park. The open house ends at 8 p.m.
The city’s grand opening is exactly four years to the day the design team, made up of a volunteer group of 25 people, presented its suggestions to the City of Winsted as part of the project “Spotlight on Winsted.”
The group was made up of architects, landscapers, urban planners and environmentalists who spent three days in Winsted sharing ideas of future plans for the town with area residents.
The key issues included accommodating growth and housing while protecting and celebrating Winsted Lake, bringing vitality and identity to the historic downtown and its newly restored city hall, and enhancing a pedestrian/recreation infrastructure full of potential connections.
Following that visit, an action plan and formation of a focus group determined a new city center would be built to overlook Winsted Lake, replacing the public works building located on First Street North.
Another committee was formed in the fall of 2005 to consider space requirements and floor plans for city administration, the police department and the community room in the city center.
At a town hall meeting in September 2006, those attending gave their overwhelming support of the project and a ground breaking ceremony in December began construction of a new public works building.
In March 2007, the city began to purchase property behind the one block of buildings on the east side of First Street North to be used as part of the lakefront promenade.
Three months later, in June, the old public works building on First Street North was removed by Wright Excavating.
The public hearing on the $4 million financing of the city center scheduled July 3, was without resident comment.
The project again moved forward awarding the construction contract for the city center and promenade to Greystone Construction of Shakopee the beginning of August.
The long-awaited ground breaking for the new city hall took place Aug. 28, and construction began in September 2007.
It took close to an entire year to complete the construction and landscaping of the new city hall and promenade because of weather conditions and some unforeseen difficulties that required solutions.
The city staff was able to move in to the new city hall in July 2008 and the first council meeting in the new council chamber was Aug. 5, 2008.
Another suggestion made by the Design Team during its visit was to link the Luce Line Trail to downtown Winsted and the lakefront promenade.
The city council approved the city’s master trail plan at its July 15, 2008 meeting.
Its first priority as part of the trail plan will be to link Kingsley Street with the lakefront promenade.