New reason to go to Alexandria city hall: local artworkHere’s another reason to go to Alexandria’s city hall: Seeing displays by local artists.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Here’s another reason to go to Alexandria’s city hall: Seeing displays by local artists.
At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council heard about the new Mayor’s Choice Artist Program.
It’s a partnership of the Alexandria Arts Advisory Committee and Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness, explained city council member Sara Carlson, who also serves on the committee.
Visual artists in the Alexandria area are encouraged to apply to have their artwork displayed within city hall.
The mayor will select one artist to feature every three months.
The public is encouraged to view the art and may also purchase artwork to take home once the display is over.
Eligible artists must live within the city, own or work in a business in the city or own property in Alexandria.
To celebrate the start of an artist’s display, the city will hold a reception in his or her honor an hour before a city council meeting.
Applications are also being accepted for musical artists and groups to play at the reception.
Ness will choose the first “Mayor’s Choice” artist in September and the reception to kick off the start of the display is set for October 11.
Art wasn’t the only thing on council members’ minds Monday. They also dealt with a housing tax levy request; an unexpected problem with a street construction project on South Broadway; the purchase of a back-up generator for the water treatment plant; and getting land back from the state that was once a possible site for a new armory.
TAX LEVY REQEST
FOR ALEXANDRIA HRA
By a 4-1 vote, the council approved a tax levy request from the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). The HRA levy will represent .0185 percent of the total taxable market value of property within the city – the maximum amount allowed under state law.
Jeff Hess, HRA director, said that there’s a big demand for the low-income housing programs the HRA provides. Right now, all 106 units at the Viking Towers are filled and there is a waiting list of 22 people with very low incomes who want to live there.
Another 130 people live at Woodhill Apartments and there are 98 families on waiting lists for two and three bedroom units.
The HRA is also busy with its rental inspection program. It has inspected 300 units so far this year and found that more than 90 percent did not need re-inspection, Hess said.
The HRA received a $396,000 grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development to repair homes in an east side section of Alexandria. So far, nine homeowners have received up to $18,000 for improvements, five are in construction and six are going through the approval process, said Hess.
Council member Virgil Batesole opposed the levy request. He questioned why the city should allow the HRA to levy its maximum amount when percentage wise, it has more money in its reserves, roughly $100,000, than the city.
ON SOUTH BROADWAY
City Administrator Jim Taddei delivered some bad news to the council: While operating a zipper machine to tear up the surface of South Broadway between 30th and 34th Avenue, a construction crew cut into a stormwater sewer line that no one knew was located in the middle of the street. Stormwater lines are usually located on the side of the street.
The city will get quotes to move and repair the line. Taddei estimated it will cost about $75,000, which will come out of the city’s capital improvement fund.
ALP TO GET BACK-UP
Al Crowser, manager of the city-owned Alexandria Light and Power (ALP), asked for authorization to call for bids for a generator to be used as a back-up for the water treatment plant and the well field.
The equipment is expected to cost about $250,000. The council voted 5-0 to approve the request.
Crowser explained that ALP is nearing the completion and renovation of the plant. ALP will open the bids in three weeks and install the generator this winter.
RETURNED TO CITY
Back in 2001, the city and the Douglas County Agricultural Association (known as the Fair Board) struck an agreement to transfer 5.1 acres of land to the State Armory Board Commission.
They hoped it would clear the way to build a new armory on the site, west of the Runestone Community Center.
The project didn’t go anywhere, however, and City Attorney John Lervick said that the commission recently contacted the city to see if it wanted the land back. State law, he said, allows the land to be returned to its original owners if it wasn’t built on in 10 years.
The standards for building armories have changed dramatically over the years, noted Mayor Ness. He said the commission now prefers at least 40 acres of land and funding is more difficult to obtain.
The council voted 5-0 to get the land back.
In other action, the council:
• Heard a request from the West Central Initiative (WCI) for the city to give it $8,000 as part of next year’s budget. The McKnight Foundation would match the city’s contribution. Now in its 25th year, WCI has provided 436 grants and loans totaling more than $8.5 million in Douglas County, according to Tom McSparron with WCI. It has also provided dental care to 1,700 children, worker training to about one-third of the manufacturers in the region and gap loan financing to entrepreneurs. The council took the request under advisement.
• Honored Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities’ “Legislator of Distinction Award” for his work in securing fair funding for parks and trails in Greater Minnesota. Ingebrigtsen serves as chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.
• Agreed to defer assessments on a project to remove a dilapidated garage belonging to Maycel Clark at 1022 Hawthorne Street. It’s part of the city’s new program that helps senior citizens with low incomes.
Arts Advisory Committee
According to Alexandria city code, the Arts Advisory Committee “shall serve as an advisory board to the city council to promote the creation, understanding, appreciation and awareness of the arts in the city and to act as a facilitator and/or advocate for the public arts by exploring ways in which the arts can enhance the quality of life in the city and foster economic and social growth.”