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Project by mall may get tax break

A redevelopment project near Viking Plaza could get a tax break.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council set a public hearing on a request from Viking Plaza Associates to receive tax abatement for redeveloping a former automotive center property, Champion Auto, adjacent to the mall.

The old building will be replaced with a new 11,000-square-foot retail center. The building will be realigned with the frontage road and will include new sewer and storm sewer connections.

The total project is estimated at $1.2 million.

A public hearing to discuss the economic development tax abatement is set for May 12 at City Hall at 7:15 p.m.


In other action, the council:

•Awarded a bid of $595,689 from MP Nextlevel to replace aging electrical cable lines in several areas of the city including Alexandria Technical and Community College, Knute Nelson, Tabberts Addition, Lakeview Addition, Geneva Crest Addition, Scenic Heights and Government Point. The project will also extend a feeder line into the southeast side of town to serve new electrical demands from the Alexandria Area High School, Grand Arbor and other developments. It was the lowest of eight bids the city received.

•Called for bids on a substation project on Nevada Street. Alexandria Light and Power Utilities plan to add two 115-kilovolt breakers in the switchyard and replace 1977 feeder switchgear, gaining two more feeder cubicles.

•Issued a special event permit for a groundbreaking that will mark the beginning of the Broadway reconstruction project, which is designed to revitalize the historic downtown area. The May 12 groundbreaking will take place at the Downtown Liquor parking lot on May 12 from 9 to 10 a.m. It’s organized by the city and the Redesigning of Alexandria’s Downtown (ROAD) Committee.

•Was informed that because of bad weather, the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event scheduled for April 29 has been postponed until May 13. It will begin with registration at 4:30 p.m. followed by a walk at 5:15 p.m. The goal is to raise funds and awareness to address domestic violence.

•Issued a special event permit to Douglas County Lakes Area Council on Mental Health. It’s having its third annual Mental Health Month Walk on May 15 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. It will begin at Big Ole.

•Issued a special event permit to Brad and Sue Dumm to hold the fifth annual Ride of Silence on May 21 from 7 to 8 p.m. Participants will gather at Big Ole Central Park and then go on a silent bike ride to raise awareness of bicycle safety and to remember those who were killed or injured in bike accidents.

•Tabled a special event permit requested by Pam Meyer, owner of the Coffee Pot Café, to hold a first-ever Homeless to Housed fundraising event on September 20 from 2 to 7 p.m. The organizers asked the city to close 15th Avenue between Broadway and Fillmore Street for the event, which would include live entertainment, a bouncy house for the kids, dunk tank, a silent auction and meal. Council members asked organizers to check with nearby Super America to see if it didn’t mind having one of its entrances blocked. It also wants organizers to get approval from the park board, street department and police. Proceeds would go to the Salvation Army, local United Way and West Central Minnesota Communities Action to help fill housing needs for the homeless.

•Approved a request to upgrade the Hilltop Lumber Deck behind the first base dugout at Knute Nelson Field. The park board reviewed the plan and recommended it. The deck had been used by the Alexandria Beetles baseball team and now the new owners, the Alexandria Blue Anchors, want to make the deck look like a ship. It will be about the same size. There is no cost to the city.

•Issued a conditional use permit to Jason Lybeck to allow open outdoor storage, service, sales and rental of boats, boat trailers and related accessories at 412 Geneva Road NE. Lybeck, the owner of The Faction Board Shop downtown, said he needs more storage for his paddle boat business. He plans to offer service and accessories at the site, including trailers and items for inboard boats. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and tentatively, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The site has been used for road construction offices and equipment storage.

•Approved a final plat for Unique Business Plaza on Northside Drive NE, east of County Road 42.

•Appointed Al Moen to the Storm Water Utility Committee. He is a civil engineer with many years of experience working with surface water drainage issues in the area.

•Authorized city staff to pursue using the old Runestone Electric Association parking stalls for public parking during the street construction season and to open two additional parking stalls in the City Hall lot to public parking.

•Ordered the preparation of plans for a project that would provide sanitary sewer to the Kenwood Drive area, replacing the septic systems of three landowners. The total cost may run as high as $155,000, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz. If bids are accepted, the homeowners would each pay $5,000 in assessments. Council member Virgil Batesole voted against the project. “We’re short of money right now,” he said. “I can’t see how to rationalize this [for three homeowners].” Council members Owen Miller and Roger Thalman acknowledged that the project was expensive but said it would help three properties in the middle of town that are located next to a lake (Agnes) and next to the city’s well field. They said the project should have been done years ago. No one spoke during Monday’s public hearing on the project. One of the property owners wrote a letter, asking for a deferment of his assessment because he is a senior citizen with a limited income. City policy allows such a deferment until the property is sold or conveyed to someone else.

•Proclaimed April 25 as Arbor Day in Alexandria, as requested by Bill Thoennes of the park department.

•Proclaimed May as Building Safety Month, as requested by Lynn Timm of the building department.

•Approved a second and final reading of an ordinance establishing a personnel committee.

•Issued the following licenses • charitable gambling to Calvary Lutheran Church for a quilt raffle; peddler’s permit to Street Dreamz Ice Cream (Shon Munn); heating license to Commerical Plumbing and Heating (Robert Skeie); fireworks/pyrotechnic permit to Awake the Lakes; fireworks permit to Pete’s County Market.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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