New trail link proposed for snowmobilersSnowmobilers may blaze a new trail in Alexandria next winter. At Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting, local snowmobile trail leaders asked for permission to use city right-of-way along McKay Avenue for the new trail link on the east side of the city.
Snowmobilers may blaze a new trail in Alexandria next winter.
The Douglas Area Trails Association (DATA) is applying to add a 3.3-mile segment that would help snowmobilers get from one end of Alexandria to the other.
At Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting, DATA leaders Bill Anderson and Jeff Linn asked for permission to use city right-of-way along McKay Avenue for the new trail link on the east side of the city.
Although the council didn't take action on the request, they were receptive to the idea. City Administrator Jim Taddei will put together a formal resolution for the council to consider at a later date.
The “Buttermilk Trail” would run south from the Central Lakes Trail north of Highway 27, continue south along McKay Avenue, then cross over County Road 46 near the intersection with County Road 106. It would continue south until it joins the existing trail.
Adding the segment would provide a close-to-town connecting route from north Alexandria to south Alexandria, according to Anderson. He explained that because future development in that area is likely, DATA wants to establish the new link before it is too late.
DATA has already received permission for the added trail from Douglas County. The next step is approval from the state.
DATA will take on the added expense of the new trail, most likely by tapping into its charitable gambling proceeds, Anderson said. Once the trail is established, it will be easier to obtain state funding, he added.
Because of all the snow, it was a good winter for snowmobiling and for DATA, Anderson told the council.
"The business community was very happy with the effort we put out this year," Anderson said.
With the additional trail, DATA would maintain nearly 370 total miles of trail.
Another notable item on the council’s agenda was accepting the bid for the remodeling project at Plaza Liquor, the city-owned store on 34th Avenue West.
The winning bid came from Alliance Building Group of Sartell for $425,415, about 2 percent less than the city’s estimate of $434,000. Five other bids were submitted, including three from Alexandria companies and one from Evansville.
State law, however, requires local governments to accept the low bid if all the specifications are met.
Local workers will still play a large role in the construction, according to Reed Becker, the engineer for the project. Eight Alexandria area companies were hired as sub-contractors, which will help the local economy, he said.
The bid was accepted with the condition that the project, which is adjacent to the airport clear-zone, will be approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
It will be Plaza Liquor’s first facelift in 25 years.
Money for the project is coming from the city’s enterprise fund, which includes profits from the city’s two liquor stores, so it won't be a direct expense for taxpayers, noted council member Sara Carlson.
The project includes adding 2,160 square feet, new asphalt shingles, metal siding, stonework, personnel doors, an aluminum storefront, a coiling door, an overhead door, and metal fascia, soffit and gutter work.
The city initially decided to pursue the project to fix damage that was caused by a break-in and to repair a deteriorating roof.
The store also needs extra storage space so it can purchase products when they are selling at a good wholesale price and be competitive with other liquor stores, according to city officials.
Storage in the building is inefficient right now and employees risk back injuries trying to move products that are stacked underneath other items, according to city officials.
The project is expected to be completed this summer. The store will remain open throughout construction.
In other action, the council:
--Held a public hearing as part of a process to obtain a $12,497 federal grant to help the Alexandria Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.
The Alexandria Police Department was notified that it was awarded the funds through the federal economic stimulus package and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The money will help keep a police officer liaison in local schools and help buy supplies.
No one from the public spoke at the public hearing, which will clear the way for the department to receive the grant.
--Agreed to table a subdivision application from Bill Leuthner for “J.A. Meadows.”
Leuthner at one time wanted to plat 46.66 acres of vacant land located south of 34th Avenue and east of South Broadway but he requested the planning commission to table the application.
--Approved a conditional use application from Kerry Donley to allow open and outdoor sales displays at 315 Nokomis Street.
Donley plans to display marine products, a dock, a boat lift and "floatable" items such as inner tubes. The items would be put away during the winter months.
--Denied an after-the-fact application from Mark Fisher who converted a single-family home at 608 Edgewater Drive into a group quarters housing up to five unrelated people.
The planning commission recommended the city to deny the permit because the project is not consistent with the single-family character of the neighborhood and there's not enough room for the required on-site parking.
Several residents in the Van Dyke Road and Edgewater Drive area contacted city and planning commission members to object to the permit. They said that numerous vehicles parked on the street were not consistent with the nature of the neighborhood.
--Approved several technical and clarification changes to the city’s sign ordinance.
City Planner Mike Weber said the changes are needed to clarify issues that are muddy or to remove conflicting statements in the ordinance.
One example: The master signage plan was made more clear and concise. Before allowing any tenants to move into a building, the city will now know how many signs will be erected and the size of the signs.
Another example: Large-scale balloon signs, which are not allowed, are now more clearly identified in the ordinance.
Council member Cindy Bigger asked if people could still put up signs for garage sales. Weber said they could.
The complete sign ordinance, Section 10.24, with the revisions includes 23 pages and is available for review at City Hall.
--Determined that an in-depth study known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not needed for the proposed housing development, Knute Nelson Senior Living/Burgen Sunrise Living.
The 98.7-acre site is located on agricultural land near Pioneer Road and 50th Avenue, adjacent from the site for a proposed new high school.
Plans call for a 205,000 square-foot facility that would include a 133-unit senior living campus – a mix of independent and assisted living senior apartments, complete with a wellness center and community spaces shared by Knute Nelson residents.
During a 30-day public comment period to gather any environmental concerns about the project, only one comment was received, according to Weber. It came from the Department of Natural Resources and recommended that the natural drainage features of the property be maintained and the existing wetland should be expanded.
Copies of the project’s Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) are available at City Hall.
--Approved a final plat for the Burgen Sunrise Third Addition.
This is the next phase in Ben Zacher's development, which received preliminary plat approval from the city/township joint planning board in September 2005.
--Hired Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates to provide the engineering work for an improvement project at the Alexandria Airport.
The project includes extending a sanitary sewer line 500 feet to the existing main in Aga Drive and repaving the parking lot at the arrival/departure building.
The engineering work was estimated to cost $24,900.
Ninety-five percent of the cost of the project will be covered through federal funds, according to City Administrator Jim Taddei.
--Passed a resolution to ban parking on Dakota Street from Highway 29 to 36th Avenue at all times.
Parking is not allowed there now anyway, noted City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven. The action was taken as part of a requirement to receive federal funds for a reconstruction project.
Dakota Street is being widened this summer and there won't be enough room for parking on both sides of the street.
--Heard from City Attorney John Lervick that the city obtained an easement for the last piece of property needed for the Dakota Street project.
At one time the city was considering using the power of eminent domain to get the property but an agreement was reached.
--Approved the following licenses: excavating – Eagle Construction Company Inc. (new); peddler’s – The Country Stop to sell farm fresh produce near Dairy Queen South and TireMaxx from May 22 to September 7, and Duke Coin LLC at the Holiday Inn from May 11-31; massage – Kelly Anderson, doing business as RejuveNation at 822 Quincy Street; sign hangar – Froggy’s Signs, Inc. (new); heating – JGT Plumbing and Heating (new); charitable gambling – Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce to sell raffles for an August 12 event at the Runestone Museum, and Knights of Columbus to sell raffles for a May 2 event at the Holiday Inn; sale of fireworks – Chris Ford, doing business as TNT Fireworks for inside sales at Wal-Mart from May 11 to July 7, and Timothy Bachtle, doing business as Vapor of Smoke Fireworks LLC for outdoor sales at 1806 Broadway from June 22 to July 5.