By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie City Council approved the purchase of an Avalanche water slide for the city pool from Horizon Commercial Pool Supply at a cost of $36,650.
The council considered a few options.
In the end, the council followed the park board recommendation to purchase the more expensive slide based on the expectation that it will last longer due to the materials used.
The Avalanche slide uses galvanized, rather than painted steel, and the flume is made of fiberglass rather than plastic, according to Economic Development Coordinator Adam Birkholz.
The city’s previous slide, which cost about $25,000 and used the same materials as the less-expensive options, lasted 10 years, but the city had to sandblast the metal and do other maintenance to it during that time.
The new slide is expected to be installed this spring.
Zoning ordinance amendments
Birkholz presented amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance to add the purpose of the district.
“The purpose of the B-1 district is to provide for the establishment of commercial and service activities that draw and serve customers from the entire community or region.”
“The purpose of the B-2 district is to provide for the establishment of commercial and service activities that draw and serve customers from the entire community or region while allowing different standards and criteria from the B-1 Central Business District.”
“The current businesses work off each other,” Birkholz said. “Those are the kinds of businesses we are trying to attract.”
He added that locating warehouses in the downtown business district would be “detrimental.”
Birkholz explained that existing businesses that do not conform with the amended ordinance can continue to be non-conforming until the use changes, until they are inactive and non-conforming for more than one year, or until the property sustains more than 60 percent damage.
Once the use of the property has changed to a conforming use, it cannot go back to a non-conforming use.
The use stays with the property, not the owner, so if an existing non-conforming business is sold, it can remain non-conforming as long as the use does not change.
City hall rental discussed
The council once again discussed the rental policy for city hall.
Specifically, they discussed the use of the hall for fundraisers, as opposed to other events.
Dahl said he would like to see a policy that is “easy to apply across the board.”
Currently, some groups pay a damage deposit, while others do not, and the rental fee is waived or reduced for some groups but not others.
Council members agreed that the policy should be consistent.
“We’re not trying to make a profit. We’re trying to cover our costs,” Angvall noted.
He noted he doesn’t like that all fundraisers are free, because there is still a cost to the city.
City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said for a regular rental, city staff will be there three times, to check the facility before an event, to open the door for renters to set up (which may be at 6 a.m. on the day of the rental, or even the day before the rental), and then to clean the hall after it has been used.
“It costs taxpayers something to have this building here,” Angvall commented.
The council tabled the matter until its March meeting.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• accepted the city’s 2016 audit. The auditors issued a clean opinion.
• accepted a donation of equipment from the Lester Prairie Youth Baseball and Softball Association valued at $640.
• approved a request from the park board to sponsor a petting zoo during the Prairie Days celebration in July at a cost of $400. The vote was 4-1, with Mayor Eric Angvall and council members Larry Hoof, Bob Messer, and Ron Foust in favor, and Council Member Tim Dahl opposed.
• accepted the bylaws for the new Lester Prairie Economic Development Authority as presented.
• approved the purchase of application equipment for turf maintenance/weed control at a cost not to exceed $575.
• approved crack-filling projects for 2017, including $2,400 for the parking lot at the city park, and $7,000 for streets.
• approved a pay increase from $15 to $15.50 for the contractor the police department uses for transcribing services. The contractor had requested an increase to $16.50 per hour.
• approved a suggestion from Angvall to implement a sign inventory and sign review/replacement program.
The vote was 4-1, with Dahl, Angvall, Hoof, and Messer in favor, and Foust opposed.