By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Winsted City Council gave a formal commitment to close the gap in the Luce Line State Trail at its Tuesday meeting.
It was part of another major effort to seek funds in a 2012 state bonding bill in the amount of $2.5 million to pave the state trail from Winsted to Cedar Mills.
In a collaborative effort, the city of Winsted, along with Hutchinson and McLeod County are seeking legislation similar to the bonding bill in 2010.
Paving the trail on the west side of Winsted would enhance economic flow among the cities of Winsted, Silver Lake, Hutchinson, and Cedar Mills.
The trail is currently an aggregate base, which is bikeable, but if improvements are made to the trail, it’s hoped it would increase the trail’s use and include inline skaters, hikers, horseback riders, snowmobilers, and cross country skiers.
If paved, the Luce Line State Trail would be the largest and longest continuous, improved trail system closest in proximity to the Twin Cities in all of the Midwest region, according to promotional material from proponents of the bill.
Winsted already has a local trail plan, and has completed several projects within the city to promote the trail’s use.
Because the only gap in the entire state trail is in Winsted, caused by Winsted city development, it is an advantage the city can use to invite visitors into its downtown.
“Technically the trail is closed,” Mayor Steve Stoko said. “We want to emphasize coming into downtown (Winsted).”
In 2010, Byway signage was added to the trail in Winsted to help direct visitors to the downtown area. The project was fully funded through grant funds and private sponsorships.
City Administrator Brad Martens gave options for trail users to get from the east side of the trail in Winsted to the west side.
The first way is the “Byway” which starts at the Luce Line Trail itself and comes into downtown and then out to McLeod County Road 1 where it connects to the trail on a mowed path owned by the DNR.
Martens said the shortest way to get from one side of the Luce Line to the other is to take Baker Avenue to McLeod County Road 1.
Sam Ulland gets jail time for blight
Sam Ulland, also known as Mohammed Shahidullah, was court-ordered to serve 90 days in the McLeod County Jail, after being found guilty by a jury Sept. 29 for blight on his property at 163 Main Avenue West in Winsted.
His jail sentence began Oct. 3 at 9 a.m.
On Sept. 30, Ulland filed an emergency request from the court of appeals to stay his jail sentence. The court of appeals denied his request, according to Winsted City Attorney Jody Winters.
He also filed a motion Oct. 3 for an extension of the jail sentence, and Judge Rex Stacey denied his request, according to Winters.
He had been notified by the city about blight on his property July 22, 2010. When he hadn’t complied to clean up the construction material, a canoe and other items, as well as tall grass and weeds in his backyard, the case was turned over to Winsted City Attorney Jody L. Winters.
The blight had not been cleaned up prior to his jury trial.
This isn’t the first time Ulland has received blight notifications from the city of Winsted.
In a sentence hearing Aug. 29, 2008, the court stayed imposition of the sentence and placed Ulland on one year unsupervised probation on the condition he was to serve 10 days in jail.
Eight days were stayed if the roof on his building at 163 Main Avenue West was completely repaired, a property the city had declared a public nuisance almost one year earlier.
In another matter in the city of Minneapolis, Ulland owned a 100-year-old church in south Minneapolis that was destroyed by fire in September. City officials labeled it arson, according to the Star Tribune.
According to city records, Ulland bought the church property in 2002 for $175,000. It was believed to be vacant at the time it burned, and in recent years has been the site of furniture sales and occasional religious services, according to the Star Tribune
City inspectors also know Shahidullah as the owner of a property on SE Erie Street near the University of Minnesota, where inspectors discovered 10 to 12 people residing.
The property, a four-bedroom house, legally could house six unrelated adults, according to city officials. Numerous other code violations also were found. His license to rent the property was revoked in 2010, according to the Star Tribune.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• appointed Raquel Kirchoff as temporary deputy city clerk treasurer from Friday, Oct. 14 through Friday, Nov. 4, 2011.
• approved a lawn service agreement with Mathew’s Lawn Service in the amount of $17,999 per year for 2012 and 2013.
• awarded the low bid from Juul Contracting Company of Hutchinson for the city hall slope stabilization project in an amount not to exceed $49,114.
The funding for this project will be taken out of the city hall building fund.
• awarded the low bid from Juul Contracting Company of Hutchinson to fix the drainage issues at 141 Fairlawn Avenue East not to exceed the amount of $57,636.
The funding for this project will be taken from the general fund.
Homeowner Colin Botner at 141 Fairlawn Avenue will be assessed $3,200 for the reconstruction of his private driveway.
• adopted State of Minnesota joint powers agreement with the City of Winsted on behalf of its city attorney and police department. The joint powers agreement allows the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to have access to the State of Minnesota’s information, which includes the state-wide supervision program.
• adopted an excessive force policy required by the federal government for recipients of community development block grants. It was noted that the city of Winsted’s police department policy and procedure manual does cover this information under professional conduct and use of force; however, the adoption of the policy is still required.
• adopted a program income policy for the Small Cities Development Program grant.