LESTER PRAIRIE Josh Eckstein of Bolton & Menk gave the Lester Prairie City Council favorable news about bids for the Maple Street storm sewer project during its meeting May 8.
Eight bids were received, ranging from $56,301 to $128,544. The engineer’s estimate was $70,000.
The council awarded the project to Litzau Excavating of Lester Prairie for the low bid of $56,301.
Eckstein said this would bring the total estimated project cost to $70,000 ($56,301 plus 25 percent in soft costs).
The project involves upgrading the storm sewer along Maple Street South between First Avenue South and Second Avenue South.
Resident Lisa Leaf asked the council to consider amending the city ordinance regarding keeping animals within city limits to permit the keeping of chickens.
Leaf said people are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from, and she wants to be able to teach her grandchildren about chickens.
She provided the council with a list of cities in the seven-county metro area that allow residents to keep chickens.
The council directed staff to research the subject and present information at a future meeting for council consideration.
City hall rental discussion
The council heard a request from Cathy Messer and Jill Duncan of the Merry Prairie Garden Club, who asked the council to waive the city hall rental fee for an educational event.
The group is bringing in a master gardener to present information about pollinators. The event will be open to the public, and there will be no admission charge.
The council covered some well-worn ground discussing which groups should be allowed to use the city hall free, and which should have to pay.
Councilor Tim Dahl expressed frustration, noting he thought the council had resolved this issue last year when it updated the city hall rental policy.
Councilor Bob Messer said the council had considered a list of organizations that would be exempt from the rental fee, but this list was not incorporated into the policy.
The council approved waiving the fee and allowing the Merry Prairie Garden Club to use the facility for the event.
Community Development Coordinator Adam Birkholz told the council that staff interviewed three applicants for assistant pool manager, and recommended hiring Kaylee Scheevel for the part-time position.
The council approved the recommendation.
The council also authorized staff to offer Scheevel a part-time interim receptionist position 10 to 15 hours per week while staff completes the process of hiring a full-time assistant city clerk.
The assistant clerk position was previously part time, prior to the recent resignation of Christine Dammann.
The vote was 4-1, with Mayor Eric Angvall and councilors Tim Dahl, Larry Hoof, and Bob Messer in favor, and Councilor Ron Foust opposed.
The council also authorized staff to execute an independent contractor agreement with Tifanie Shimanski to conduct the water aerobics program at the city pool.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• acknowledged a $3,050 franchise fee payment from Mediacom.
• received a tentative schedule from Clark Mosquito Service for service dates this year, which includes June 5, 12, 19, 26; July 10 and 24; and Aug. 7 and 21. The schedule is subject to change.
• approved installing a new water service to a residence at 201 Juniper Street at a cost of $4,000. The city took this unusual step because there is significant documentation indicating that a problem with a frozen water line at the residence was made worse by utility work that was done by the city. Although the existing water line is shallower than current standards, the resident did not experience problems prior to the city project. The work will be completed as a change order to the Maple Street project referenced above.
• tabled discussion about removal/replacement of trees at the city cemetery until the June council meeting.
• approved an athletic field agreement between the city and Lester Prairie School District. The agreement includes 2 percent increases in each of the two years of the agreement.
• approved a variance to remove side-yard setbacks and the utility easement between two lots in the Prairie Ridge development. The agreement will allow the owner to construct a residence over the lot lines of the two parcels. The design of the house would not meet setback requirements of a single lot.