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Mayer City Council, school reach roundabout deal
April 1, 2013

By Ivan Raconteur

MAYER, MN – Mayer City Council approved a cost-sharing arrangement with Mayer Lutheran High School for a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Highway 25 and 62nd Street during Monday’s meeting.

City Administrator Luayn Murphy confirmed Friday the school has accepted the city’s offer, and the project can move forward.

Mayer Lutheran Executive Director Joel Landskroener was present at the meeting and noted the school board voted March 11 to pay 60 percent of the estimated $512,000 cost of the project ($307,200).

Landskroener said the city typically assesses landowners adjacent to a road improvement project 30 percent of the cost. Since the school owns land on both sides of the project, a 60 percent school contribution would be consistent with the city’s established practice, Landskroener said.

The school also agreed to accept the city’s offer to finance the school portion of the cost, and proposed that the school would pay an interest rate of 2 percent.

After two motions failed for lack of a second, the council approved a motion to accept a cost-sharing agreement under which the school will pay 60 percent of the cost, the city will pay 40 percent, and the city will charge 2.4 percent interest (rather than the 2 percent proposed by the school board).

The vote was 3-1, with council members Bruce Osborn, Tice Stieve-McPadden, and Daniel Lueth in favor, and Mayor Mike Dodge opposed. Dodge had advocated a two-thirds/one-third split, rather than a 60/40 split. Council member Erick Boder was absent.

Landskroener said he would present the council’s decision to the school board for review.

Reopening 62nd Street to Highway 25 is part of the city’s long-term transportation plan, but not an immediate need. The school has requested the change to provide access to the school’s new main entrance. A roundabout was not the first option proposed, but it is the only one the Minnesota Department of Transportation will accept, due to the offset nature of the intersection.

Council divided on restroom project

The council considered a proposal by the park commission to accept a $55,000 quote from Breyer Construction of Green Isle for construction of restrooms in Old Schoolhouse Park.

The park commission received a second quote of $79,116 from Roy Custom Homes of Watertown.

City Administrator Luayn Murphy said the balance in the park improvement fund at the end of 2012 was $140,329.

The bids do not include the cost to connect sewer and water to the new building. City engineer Dave Martini estimated the cost for connecting to sewer and water at $1,500 to $2,000, since the proposed structure is only a short distance from existing lines.

Dodge said he was nervous about spending that much money on the restrooms, noting that the city spent $110,000 on the concession stand in Old Schoolhouse Park a few years ago, and the facility is rarely used.

Council Member Bruce Osborn said he is concerned because 81 percent of residents said no to the project in the past.

Stieve-McPadden said that vote pertained to the whole park improvement project, not just to the restrooms.

Osborn said the field is not used as much as it should be.

Stieve-McPadden said the field is used every night of the week.

Stieve-McPadden, who is the park commission liaison, said the commission did the research and made a recommendation.

Park Commission Member Krista Goedel said the restrooms have been in the city’s capital improvement plan for five years.

Stieve-McPadden said the commission is trying to advance the city parks, and the restrooms are one of the most affordable pieces on the list of proposed improvements.

A motion to accept the $55,000 quote from Breyer Construction failed on a 2-2 tie vote, with Stieve-McPadden and Dodge in favor, and Osborn and Lueth opposed.

Stieve-McPadden expressed frustration at the council’s lack of support for park commission recommendations.

“We make a recommendation for something as small as $200 for an ad, and it isn’t approved,” she commented.

“If this fails because we didn’t have the right information, it sends the wrong message to the park commission,” Dodge said.

After further discussion, which included questions about when the restrooms would be locked and unlocked, and who would be responsible for doing so; and questions about who would clean the restrooms and what this would cost, Dodge said he would recommend adding the restroom proposal to the next council agenda.

Stieve-McPadden said the quotes won’t change and the recommendation from the park commission won’t change. “Give us a list of what you want to know,” Stieve-McPadden said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved the purchase of 15 18-inch by 45-inch banners for the city’s downtown at a total cost of $893 from Northern Lights Display.

• approved a baseball field maintenance plan.

• approved amending the city’s fee schedule to charge $30 per month, or $10 per week, for out-of-town businesses advertising on the city’s electronic sign.

• approved year-end balance transfers from the general fund to special funds including $15,000 to the fire truck fund for future capital purchases, $23,197 to the park improvement fund for future park equipment capital purchases, $25,315 to the street fund for capital purchases, $7,271 to the community center fund for community center improvements, and $5,954 to the Highway 25 fund to cure the deficit.

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