By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN After weeks of controversy over the possibility of Winsted’s downtown pharmacy being moved to St. Mary’s campus as part of a $2.5 million St. Mary’s remodeling project, the issue has been resolved.
The city council approved a conditional use permit (CUP), Tuesday, allowing St. Mary’s to open a commercial business featuring a country-store-type setting with retail products. Prescription drug sales will not be permitted.
The country store was proposed to the planning commission by Keaveny Drug CEO Deb Keaveny and St. Mary’s Administrator/CEO Andy Opsahl at its Sept. 15 meeting. Originally, the businesses applied for a CUP to operate a retail pharmacy at St. Mary’s.
Keaveny told the planning commission that she appreciates the feedback from Winsted residents and that she has decided to maintain the pharmacy at the downtown location.
Keaveny also told the planning commission that St. Mary’s Care Center is important to the success of Keaveny Drug, and the version of the campus that St. Mary’s Care Center has proposed is very appealing.
As part of the conditions set forth in the CUP, Winsted businesses are to be given the opportunity to sell products at St. Mary’s store.
“We do have a commitment from the gal that owns the Roadhouse Coffee Shop,” Keaveny said. “She is going to participate with us.”
The Roadhouse will be offering coffee, sandwiches, and if the traffic warrants it, potentially a full service, Keaveny added.
“We are just going to continue to work with local businesses to make it a win for everybody,” Keaveny said.
Council Member Bonnie Quast told Keaveny at the city council meeting, “I don’t know if you are happy with what the planning commission came up with, but I think it is an awesome idea, and I think your country store at St. Mary’s is just going to be great.”
Quast added that the citizens who have talked to her are absolutely “thrilled” that the pharmacy is not going to be moved from main street.
Council Member Tom Ollig said, “I think St. Mary’s, Keaveny, and the planning commission should be commended for working together. It was a good thing.”
Pavement plan approved
In April 2009, the city council authorized the city’s engineering firm of Bolton & Menk to prepare a pavement management plan.
City engineer Jake Saulsbury presented the completed plan to the council Tuesday. The proposed management plan evaluates the approximately 10 miles of local streets.
Saulsbury told the council that approximately 75 percent of the streets in town are 40-plus years old.
“As you move away from the lake and downtown area, the streets get to be newer, but if nothing is to be done, those old streets would expand to about 90 percent of the town by 2020,” Saulsbury said.
The proposed improvement plan has 10 projects scheduled over a 15-year period with an estimated total project cost of $610,000.
“The plan is only a guide,” Saulsbury said.
Mayor Steve Stotko asked Saulsbury if the city would save money if it did a number of the projects together instead of spreading them out over 15 years.
“Administrative costs would be reduced,” Saulsbury said. “Construction costs I would estimate they would be greatly reduced, and our engineering design costs.”
Quast asked how the street projects would impact the citizens’ taxes.
“I believe when we did a sample project a few months ago, the average assessment amount would be in the $3,000-$4,000 range,” Saulsbury said.
Property owners would be given the option of paying up front or paying interest on their tax statements in addition to the assessment over an optional number of years, Salisbury added.
For the total Winsted pavement management plan, it is estimated the overall assessed costs will total $210,000, and the city’s cost would be $400,000.
The first project that is proposed in the plan is reconstruction of Fairlawn Circle, and the second year’s proposed project is reconstruction and overlay in Westgate.
Upcoming Kingsley lift improvements
The existing Kingsley lift station was constructed in 1966, and will be the first of four lift stations to be upgraded as part of the wastewater system facility plan.
The council authorized Bolton & Menk to proceed with the final design of the lift station project and to solicit quotes to determine the existing force main sizes.
Saulsbury estimated the cost of improvements to the Kingsley lift station at $193,970. This is a savings of more than $160,000 from what was originally estimated as part of the original facility plan.
The savings comes from utilizing the existing 8-foot diameter wet well for the pumping station instead of the costly construction of a deep structure adjacent to the lake.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• authorized Dan Wroge of PeopleService to remove and land apply 400,000 gallons of bio-solids from the sludge storage tanks at the wastewater treatment plant at a cost not to exceed $8,000.
• approved an agreement with TDS Telecom for the installation of a managed Internet protocol telephone system for the City of Winsted at a cost of $2,139, to be taken from the cable fund. The system is estimated to save the city almost $100 a month.
• learned there will be a political forum for Winsted city offices, state senate candidates, and McLeod County sheriff candidates Tuesday, Oct. 12, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.