By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE The portion of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in McLeod County was rough, overgrown, and essentially unusable in 2014.
The city council asked for volunteers to work on extending a the trail from the Carver County border to McLeod County Road 1 on the west side of the city.
The portions of the trail in Carver and Hennepin counties had already been paved at that time, and the goal was to provide safe access to the trail for residents of Lester Prairie.
A group of residents stepped up to form a task force and accept the challenge.
The members are:
• Gordon Houk
• Craig Heimerl
• Dave Klitzke
• Mary Ann Teubert
• Jennifer Thiry
• Mary Behrens
• Kelli Machemehl
• Larry Burandt
The group became known as the Lester Prairie Trail Committee.
They worked on raising funds to develop a gravel surface to provide access to Lester Prairie.
The group also promoted the trail and supported a grant application to pave the trail that was submitted by McLeod County as part of the county’s master trail plan.
After several applications during the past several years, the county received Legacy funding this year.
The McLeod County Board approved an agreement with the State of Minnesota Nov. 7 to accept a Legacy grant for the development of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail from the Carver County line through Lester Prairie to McLeod County Road 1.
This includes paving the trail, and development of a trail head in downtown Lester Prairie.
During the Dec. 12 meeting, the city council acknowledged that the committee has fulfilled its mission.
Community Development Coordinator Adam Birkholz said there is no doubt the trail would not be where it is today without the efforts of the committee.
“They exceeded our expectations,” Mayor Eric Angvall said.
Because the committee has served its purpose, the council voted to disband the committee as an official committee of the city, and turn over the role of officially representing the city in trail matters to the Lester Prairie Park Board.
However, Birkholz and the council recommended that the members could re-form as a “friends of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail” group, and continue supporting the trail in that capacity.
The council, following the recommendation of the planning commission, which conducted a public hearing on the matter, adopted a zoning ordinance amendment that prohibits parking in front yards and side yards adjacent to a street except on designated driveways leading directly to a garage.
Parking will be allowed in rear yards and side yards that are not adjacent to a street.
The council also adopted a zoning ordinance amendment stating that “Whenever in any zoning district a use is neither specifically permitted nor denied, the use shall be considered prohibited.”
The council adopted an amendment to the zoning ordinance stating that hydronic furnaces are only allowed in the agricultural district as interim uses on parcels that are 10 acres or larger.
This approval included a process under which interim uses can be approved.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved Mark Klemm as a contract employee to assist staff with IT issues at a rate of $25 per hour. The vote was 4-1, with Angvall and councillors Larry Hoof, Bob Messer, and Ron Foust in favor, and Councilor Tim Dahl opposed.
• approved replacing a strainer and two valves at the city pool at a cost of $5,675.