Land for trails, green space donated to cityA large chunk of land in south Alexandria is now set aside for walking trails, environmental learning, picnicking and other ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
A large chunk of land in south Alexandria is now set aside for walking trails, environmental learning, picnicking and other ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
And it’s all because of an unusual land donation.
At its November 23 meeting, the Alexandria City Council approved a charitable pledge agreement with Gary and Cindy Zacher.
At no cost to the city, the Zachers donated a 56-acre piece of property located in the 50th Avenue South Park Addition, west of the railroad tracks near the proposed site of a new high school. The Zachers will receive a charitable deduction on their federal income tax return for donating the land.
The city must use the property purely for conservation purposes, such as a walking path, ski trail, environmental learning and picnic areas.
Some of land may also be used to plant trees and preserve open spaces.
The property has some low-lying areas but it’s scenic, with natural wetlands, big trees and nice views of the countryside. And it will stay that way.
As part of the agreement, no development is allowed. There won’t be any ball fields, tennis courts or playground equipment – just trails, viewing stands to enjoy the vistas and perhaps a bench or two for walkers to rest, according to City Planner Mike Weber.
The property can’t be used for any other purpose other than conservation, noted City Attorney John Lervick.
Donating such a large piece of land to the city is rare. Lervick couldn’t remember a similar donation.
Council member Sara Carlson said that she walked along the property with the Zachers and it was beautiful.
Mayor Dan Ness recognized the Zachers at the meeting and they received a round of applause from those attending.
When contacted later by the newspaper, Gary Zacher said that preserving the land for conservation purposes was the right use of the property.
“There’s no other place in the city where people can go for a walk and enjoy a little peace and quiet,” he said.
In related action, the council also approved a final plat for the property.
In other action…
In other action (not previously reported in Friday’s newspaper), the council:
•Proclaimed November as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
The proclamation notes that more than 400,000 trained volunteers in the U.S. contribute 18 million hours of service to hospice programs each year.
•Renewed the licenses for 127 businesses or organizations in the city for 2010.
The licenses include club, wine, excavating contractor, garbage hauler, heating contractor, massage therapist, off-sale beer, off-sale liquor, on-sale beer, off-street reserved parking, on-street loading zone, pawnbroker, set-up liquor, sign hanger, tattoo and tobacco.
Beer problem at Viking Speedway?
•Approved the Viking Speedway’s 2010 schedule, which is set to open on April 15 and continue through October 17 with the Viking Fall Classic.
The speedway also received a license to sell beer under the same conditions it has in the past: Beer can only be sold under the grandstand or by authorized beer runners; sales can start no more than one hour before the scheduled race time and must end at 9:55 p.m.; containers must be opened at the point of sale; wristbands must be displayed to verify legal drinking age; beer may only be consumed in the designated grandstand areas; security measures must be approved by the police chief and overtime will be paid by the speedway; no alcohol is permitted in the pit area; and beer sales are limited to approved and scheduled Viking Speedway events only.
Council member Elroy Frank noted that he has seen beer being taken from the grandstand area out into the parking lot. He said the speedway should be made aware this is happening.
A representative from Viking Speedway Board, Bert Pexsa, told Frank that although he hasn’t personally seen any violations, he agreed that the problem should be addressed.
Pexsa said the speedway could put up warning signs about the restricted areas and announce it during the races.
New brush chipper for street department
•Authorized the street department to pursue price quotes for a new brush chipper.
The equipment will replace a 1986 model. The estimated cost of $30,000 will come out of the city’s park department equipment fund.
Park Director Bill Thoennes said he plans to sell the old chipper to a local tree service.
Liquor licenses approved
•Approved on-sale liquor and Sunday liquor licenses for the following establishments – Bennigan’s, Bug-A-Boo Bay, D. Michael B’s, Depot Express, Doolittle’s, Garden Center, Holiday Inn, Raaper’s Sports Bar and Grill, Tennessee Roadhouse (formerly Whiskey Creek Woodfire Grill) and Mi Mexico.
The council held a public hearing before approving the licenses but no one spoke.
Resignation from HRA Board
•Accepted the resignation of Colleen Thompson from the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board and the Economic Development Board.
Thompson recently moved to Maplewood.
Streets blocked for event
•Approved a request from the Runestone Museum to block 2nd Avenue from traffic one block east of Broadway and to block Broadway from north of Downtown Liquors to Big Ole Central Park during the annual “Christmas in the Fort” celebration on November 27.
Group quarters allowed
•Issued an after-the-fact conditional use permit to Larry Scott Quitmeyer to allow group quarters for up to three persons in one unit of a two-unit residential duplex at 702 Nokomis Street.
Un-built street vacated
•Agreed to vacate a portion of a dedicated but un-built city road located north and east of the former Alexandria Golf Cars building at 1211 North Nokomis Street.
A right-of-way deed was recorded in 1967 to dedicate the road, which was then a part of Alexandria Township. However, the road itself was never built and in 1970, the township vacated the westerly 200 feet of the road, leaving a 150-foot remnant, according to City Planner Mike Weber.
The matter came up during routine title work.
Comprehensive plan amended for Zavadil development
•Agreed to amend the city’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map to incorporate the Zavadil Master Plan in the Lake Andrew area, which had been approved by the planning commission in October.
The amendment allows the property to be rezoned but doesn’t confer any development rights.
The property encompasses about 660 acres and 6,000 feet of lakeshore, all of which is currently zoned agricultural.
The master plan allows a marina, green spaces, parks, walking trails, residential lots, apartments, townhomes, executive housing, affordable housing, assisted living and other types of housing.
New sweeper truck for street department
•Approved the public works department’s request to purchase a new sweeper/vacuum truck.
The low bid from ABM Equipment of Hopkins was $209,537, including trade-in of the department’s current sweeper and sales tax.
The money will come out of the city’s stormwater utility fund.
City’s liability limits to follow state statute
•Decided to not waive the liability limits cities can incur under state statute. The law limits the city’s legal exposure to $500,000 per person or $1.5 million in aggregate.
Waiving the limits would have required the city to pay for more insurance, City Administrator Jim Taddei said.
•Amended an ordinance to correct the numbering sequence of city code within Chapter 10.
Heating licenses approved
•Approved the following heating contractor licenses – Willmar Fireplace and Design (new) and AAF-McQuay, Inc., which was transferred from Thermal Technologies.