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Council looks into adding third sheet of ice at RCC

Should the Runestone Community Center be expanded to include a third sheet of ice?

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council called for a “needs assessment” to find out. It also authorized staff to prepare a request for proposals (RFP).

Although these initial steps won’t have any financial impact on the city, moving ahead with issuing an RFP and choosing a consultant would cost money, noted City Administrator Marty Schultz.

Groups that use the RCC say there’s a big need for more ice time. This includes the Alexandria Area Hockey Association (AAHA), the Alexandria Figure Skating Club and the Vikingland Curling Club.

The AAHA projects a 33 percent growth over the next five years and said that if no additional ice time is made available, it would be impossible for it to hold hockey tournaments during the regular season. As a result, the community would lose 750 booked hotel rooms and 2,300 visitors per season.


In other action, the council:

• Took no action on a proposed resolution from the League of Minnesota Cities that would allow cities to publish public notices on their own websites instead of in newspapers. The Douglas County Board approved a similar resolution affecting counties on a 3-2 vote. A hearing on the issue is scheduled to take place at the Minnesota Legislature this Wednesday. Council member Todd Jensen said the council wasn’t given enough time to consider the resolution. Council member Virgil Batesole said he’d support a resolution that would keep public notices in the newspaper. He said many residents don’t have computer access and like reading the notices in the newspaper.

• Accepted the annual fire department report from Fire Chief Jeff Karrow. The department responded to 205 calls last year, which is down slightly from 2012’s 219 calls but up from the 199 and 197 calls in 2010 and 2011. Fires caused just over $1 million in damage last year but it could have been worse. Firefighters saved about $2.1 million worth of property from being destroyed. Out of the department’s 30 volunteer firefighters, an average of 25 responded to each call.

• Accepted the annual report from Fire Marshal Dennis Stark. He logged another busy year with fire prevention/public education efforts; code enforcement; investigations, fire chief and department requests; hydrant flows; public relations and continuing education.

• Accepted the annual building report from Lynn Timm. She highlighted the five biggest projects of 2013 — Arabella Manor, ForceAmerica, Housing and Redevelopment Authority townhomes, 3M’s plant addition and St. Cloud Overhead Door’s new retail office. Residential building is up in the city, Timm said. “I think we’re on the right track again,” she said.

—Called for a public hearing to adopt a street improvement plan and discuss issuing general obligation street reconstruction bonds for two projects this year. The first is the city’s portion of the annual local street overlays and the second is the Victoria Heights reclamation project. The city is considering issuing bonds for the projects and combining them with the phase four, part two waterline expansion project. The public hearing is set for March 24 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. Because this is reclamation street project, issuing bonds would require a four-fifths vote from the council. The process also allows for a reverse referendum if 5 percent of the voters object to the bonding plan.

• Was informed that Andrew Mellgan has accepted the position of the city liquor store manager, taking over for long-time manager Carol Lanigan, who retired.

• Issued a seasonal on-sale and Sunday liquor license to Clubhouse Bistro at the Alexandria Golf Club.

• Proclaimed February 23 to March 1 Random Acts of Kindness Week at the request of the Alexandria Kiwanis Club. The week promotes and recognizes small acts of kindness. Local service clubs, churches and other community organizations are encouraged to participate. Students will draw posters depicting kind acts.

• Tabled taking action on a special event permit for Ribfest, as requested by a new local, non-profit group, “Awake the Lakes.” The council asked the organization to add the city to its insurance coverage of the event and to provide more details about the city’s involvement for facilities and security. The event will not be held on Memorial weekend as it has in the past. Organizers are hoping for better weather by scheduling it on June 28, the same weekend as the Vikingland Band Festival. It will once again take place on 2nd Avenue and Big Ole Central Park. Proceeds will be donated to a different charity every year. This year, it will help Habitat for Humanity. About 2,000 are expected to attend.

• Issued a special event permit for Theatre L’Homme Dieu’s Run for the Roses 5K on May 3. The race will start and end at the Big Ole Viking stature. About 150 people are expected to participate.

—Issued a special event permit for Someplace Safe’s second annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” walk that raises awareness of violence against women. It will take place at Big Ole Central Park on April 29. About 150 people are expected to attend.

—Tabled taking action on a special event permit to Lasting Imprint’s fifth annual Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Walk and 5K on September 6. The council asked organizers to approve the plans with the police department and to verify the insurance. The walk will start and end at City Park. About 300 people are expected to attend.

• Issued a special event permit for the 2014 Harvest Duathlon and Kids Duathlon on August 29-30, pending final approval from the police department. It will take place at Discovery Middle School. The adult event is a 2.5 mile run, a 14.75 mile bike race and a 2.3 mile run. The kids’ event will be a run on a dirt track and a bicycle loop around the school. About 450 are expected to attend the events.

• Appointed the city administrator and the city attorney as advisory members of the Alexandria Charter Commission. Batesole voted against the appointments. He said the commission should decide who it wants as its attorney.

• Approved a subdivision application from Steve and Judy Soderholm for Rosewood Hills. This will allow them to create conveyable parcels of land on their 74-acre property along Rosewood Lane and County Road 46/McKay Avenue and 10th Avenue, near Woodland Elementary School.

• Approved a final plat for The Pines, Second Addition, which was originally platted in 2006. This will allow lots to be slightly re-aligned. The Pines is located near White Spruce Lane and Karnis Drive.

• Gave prelimiary approval to vacate a platted but unbuilt alley between Broadway and Hawthorne Streets, north of 3rd Avenue. There are no buildings remaining on the block; the Lake Region Co-op building was the last one removed. ORB Management requested the 16-foot wide alley to be vacated.

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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