By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie City Council has had ongoing conversations about improvements at city hall recently.
Mayor Andy Heimerl had asked for a priority list so the council could make a decision during Tuesday’s meeting. However, the council did not yet have costs for all of the proposed improvements, so it pushed back a decision until June.
Among the priorities identified by Council Member Bob Messer and City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk are:
• Adding new flooring. A quote of $32,400 has been received from Bergmann Interiors to install new floor tile over the existing tile in the entire city hall.
• Updating the restrooms.
• Replacing the sliding doors (room dividers).
• Updating the entryway/building facade.
• Updating the kitchen.
Council Member Eric Angvall said he would still like to spend $25,000 to install solar panels on city hall, regardless of what the council decides about the other improvements.
The city also received a quote of $3,995 for paving the parking area behind (west side) city hall.
Pawelk said there is slightly less than $80,000 in the city hall fund.
Vehicles will be towed
Police Chief Bob Carlson asked for council direction regarding an ongoing issue with junk vehicles at several residences in the city which are in violation of the city’s blight ordinance.
Carlson said he has been working with the city attorney on this issue, and the ordinance allows the city to tow vehicles that are in violation after 30 days.
He noted that doing so could cost an estimated $100 to $150 per vehicle.
“It is costly to proceed, but we don’t know any other way to do it,” Angvall said.
Carlson noted that the police department has to treat all residents the same, so if junk vehicles are towed from one residence, they will have to be towed from other residences where they are in violation.
Carlson said there could be as many as 25 to 30 vehicles in the city that are in violation.
In response to a question about whether the city attorney has sent letters to the violators, Carlson said the city attorney has been to court with one resident, and the issue has still not been corrected.
Mayor Andy Heimerl said the city should send letters to residents who are in violation, notifying them that the vehicles will be towed on a specific date.
“We’ve been dealing with this for two years,” Heimerl noted.
The council authorized the police department to proceed with enforcement of the blight ordinance, acknowledging that this will have an impact on the department’s budget.
Less than half of city residents recycle
City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk noted that, according to a report provided by Waste Management, the rate of recycling participation in the city is 46 percent.
Council members said they were disappointed by the numbers, but not surprised.
Council Member Ron Foust said the report confirms his own informal observations.
He said it appears that the rate of recycling is even lower in the East Park Estates and Prairie Ridge developments.
The council discussed possible reasons for the low participation, and things the city might do to increase participation.
The council generally agreed that the best thing the city could do to boost participation would be to go from a five-sort to a single-sort recycling collection.
Pawelk said this is a complaint that the city office often receives, especially from new residents who move to the city from areas that offer single-sort recycling.
However, Pawelk noted that McLeod County will not allow Lester Prairie to offer single-sort recycling.
Parking still an issue on Second Ave. No.
The city has been dealing with an ongoing issue with parking on the south side of Second Avenue North just east of the school.
No parking is allowed in that area between Aug. 15 and June 15 the following year due to safety concerns due to the narrow street, and foot traffic during school events.
Despite the city’s efforts, people continue to park in that area, and some have been ticketed.
The council noted that one reason for this may be that the signs are small and people may not see them.
The council approved the purchase of larger signs to improve visibility.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• moved the Tuesday, Aug. 14 meeting to Wednesday, Aug. 15 due to the primary election.
• Approved the purchase of a 1997 Towmaster utility trailer from Double A Delivery Service for a price of $2,400.
• approved a schedule for the Prairie Days celebration submitted by Dan and Dawn LaMott, and agreed to waive the cost of police security during the event.
• approved the low quote of $29,200 from Central Tank Coatings to clean and inspect the interior of the water tower, and repaint the exterior. The cleaning is recommended in conjunction with the new water treatment plant, which is expected to go online later this month.
• approved a quote from Wm. Mueller & Son of Hamburg for paving a portion of the compost site road and the area around the new water treatment plant, at a cost of $20,880.
• approved increasing the wages of returning pool staff by 25 cents per hour on a 4-1 vote with Heimerl, Messer, Foust, and Council Member Art Mallak in favor, and Angvall opposed.
• approved a request from resident Kelly Johnson to conduct a water aerobics class in the city pool after regular pool hours this summer. The $3 per-participant fee will be turned over to the city. In exchange for running the class, Johnson will receive a $90 pool pass for her family.