By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie City Council discussed a proposed street turnback project during Tuesday’s meeting, including comments received during a public information meeting on the project.
The main area of discussion was the addition of a sidewalk along the south side of Second Avenue South.
There was minimal public objection to construction of the sidewalk, but some affected residents expressed concern about having to remove snow from the sidewalk.
The council strongly supported keeping the sidewalk in the project because of safety concerns, and because this is the city’s only opportunity to add the sidewalk at county, rather than city cost.
Council members noted that the sidewalk will improve safety by giving residents an alternative to walking in the street. The sidewalk will connect to existing sidewalk along Second Avenue South to provide a route to the city park.
McLeod County has agreed to pay for the sidewalk under the terms of the turnback agreement.
The council also determined that adjacent property owners will be responsible for snow removal, just as residents are in the rest of the city.
Some council members noted that if the city were to offer to remove snow on this sidewalk, it would create an issue in other parts of the city where it does not provide that service.
The council authorized city engineer Jake Saulsbury of Bolton & Menk to proceed with acquisition of required easements and final design of the project.
Construction is expected to begin in 2013.
Council reverses position on mosquitoes
When the council approved its final budget for 2012, it eliminated mosquito spraying as one of its cost-saving moves.
That decision has been bugging some city residents who were concerned about how this would affect their outdoor activities this summer.
In response to residents’ concerns, the council voted 4-1 in favor of hiring a contractor to do mosquito spraying in the city this summer.
Mayor Andy Heimerl and Council Member Bob Messer will work with City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk to find money in other parts of the budget to pay for the service, which cost approximately $6,000 last year.
Heimerl, Messer, and council members Ron Foust and Art Mallak voted in favor of doing the spraying, and Council Member Eric Angvall voted against it.
Angvall, noted the council had removed the service from the budget to save tax dollars, and now is approving the service anyway. “You can’t have it both ways,” Angvall said.
Girl Scout project announced
Evelyn Fowler, representing the Lakes and Prairies Girl Scouts group, presented information about the group’s Centennial Day of Service, which is scheduled Saturday, Oct. 13 in celebration of the Girl Scout council’s 100th anniversary.
The Girl Scouts volunteered to partner with other community groups on a service project related to improving water quality.
The proposal includes three parts.
One component involves marking storm drains in the city with labels warning citizens not to dump pollutants such as chemicals, leaves, and grass clippings into the drains.
The group will also distribute informational door hangers on residences.
The final component of the day is a project to clean up public spaces by sweeping, raking, and removing materials to prevent them from contaminating rivers, lakes, and streams.
Fowler said the group hopes to enlist the participation of other community groups to make this a community project, not just a Girl Scout project.
The council expressed support for the proposal and offered assistance.
More information will be presented as it becomes available.
City hall priorities discussed
The council discussed possible improvements to city hall, including upgrades to the restrooms, replacement of the flooring, removal of wainscoting, replacement of accordion room divider door, and upgrades to the kitchen.
Messer will collect additional quotes, and the council will review them at its Tuesday, June 12 meeting.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• heard from Pawelk that the city received a $3,618 workers compensation dividend from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.
• acknowledged a maintenance fund refund of $12,434 from PeopleService for operation of the wastewater treatment plant. The refund is due, in part, to the efficient operation of the plant.
• heard that the city received a franchise fee payment of $3,176 from Mediacom.
• approved quotes from Bargen Inc. including $1,693 for crack sealing and $3,260 for water valves/manholes.
• approved election judges for the 2012 primary, general, and city special elections, including Elizabeth Betcher, Shirley Dibb, Gordon Houk, Audrey Litzau, Shirley Weisenburger, and head judge Pawelk.
• heard a brief introduction from Gene Feltmann, who has announced he will run for McLeod County Commissioner.
• approved painting a flag pole at the city cemetery when the downtown light poles are painted.
• approved increasing the city/school rental agreement from $3,457 to $3,600.
• noted that the Lester Prairie Fire Department Relief Association, which owns the concrete barriers at the demo pit near the compost site, has sold the barriers and they will be removed.
• approved up to $4,200 for replacement of overhead doors at the pool house.
• discussed moving pool concessions to the pool house.
• approved purchase of a used refrigerator from Heimerl for $600. Heimerl said the unit was only used six months, and when new, it cost $1,300. This will be placed in the kitchen at city hall, and the refrigerator from city hall will be moved to the pool house.