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New restrooms by Big Ole?

The Alexandria City Council is trying to solve a problem that has long been a concern in downtown Alexandria — no public restrooms.

At its Monday meeting, the council agreed to call for bids to build restrooms at Big Ole Central Park.

They would be placed near the corner of Second Avenue East and Broadway, just to the west of the entrance to the parking lot. This will allow easy access for visitors who park in the parking lot, walk from downtown or come off the Central Lakes Trail, according to Bill Thoennes, parks and facilities director.

The restrooms would be part of a 24-by-18-foot building connected to city water and sewer. They would be heated, available year round and would be locked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The estimated cost is $125,000, which would be funded through the city's capital improvement fund.

Council member Bob Kuhlman said he liked the location of the restrooms. He said it offers good access without blocking views of the Big Ole statue.

Bids will be opened March 6.

City Hall roof project

There's a leak at City Hall — a roof.

Several leaks are causing damage to the interior of the building, according to Bill Thoennes, parks and facilities director.

A roofing contractor that has made numerous repairs recommended replacing the rubber roof, which is 24 years old and has outlived its useful life, Thoennes said. He recommended

The council agreed to get quotes to replace the roof with a similar rubber membrane roof product or another material, such as vinyl.

The project is estimated to cost $80,000 and could start this spring. It would be funded through the city's capital improvement fund.

Bids will be opened March 6.

Lake Andrew development

A big development planned on Lake Andrew will undergo more study about its impact on the environment.

Zavadil Development is proposing to construct 52 townhomes, 10 lake lots for separate sale and the related road and utility improvements along the northwestern shore of Lake Andrew within the city limits

Because of its proximity to the lake, a mandatory Environmental Assessment Worksheet was ordered for the project and the public was allowed to comment on the plan for 30 days.

City staff and the city's Planning Commission determined that three issues needed additional study.

Additional Zavadil land lying north of the site wasn't included in the worksheet, even though it might affect the same environmental resources, including future projects.

Also, the Department of Natural Resources requested additional nutrient and sediment loading information and a description of management practices to make sure the project complies with the Douglas County Water Plan.

Lastly, the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office recommended an archaeological survey to be completed on the site. There may be evidence of a settlement that lived there a couple hundred of years ago, said City Planner Mike Weber.

As a result, the council rescinded the worksheet and ordered a new supplemental Environmental Worksheet that would contain additional information.

Taking the action gives the city, the developer and any other interested people the opportunity to study the plan and its impact on the environment, according to Weber.

Good news from the state

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven reported good news about the funds the city receives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The city will receive $1,127,775 in state aid this year — an 11 percent increase from last year.

That's $113,328 more than the city put in its 2018 capital improvement plan budget, Schoonhoven said.

Paving project

The council is calling for bids on a paving project at the Runestone Community Center's west and east parking lots, a total of 269 parking spaces, and on the fairground's north frontage road near the fair buildings.

The project also includes drainage improvements — drainage swales, catch basins, storm sewers and a stormwater retention pond.

The fairgrounds portion of the project will be paid by the Agricultural Association.

The bid opening is set for March 13.

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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