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New sign to welcome visitors to Alexandria

A new community sign will soon welcome visitors into Alexandria.

The Alexandria City Council heard about the sign from Coni McKay, director of the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, at Monday night's council meeting.

McKay noted that the sign idea has been in the works for 10 years before a consensus was reached and all the details were worked out.

The lighted sign will be placed a quarter-mile from the interstate exit along Highway 29 South near the frontage road to Taco Bell. It will be made of brick and steel.

The brick portion will be four feet high. Anchored to the top of it will be the Chamber's familiar sunburst/wave design and the slogan, "Alexandria - Easy to Get to. Hard to Leave."

Tastefully Simple is covering the cost of the sign, which is being built by Scenic Sign Corporation of St. Cloud, McKay said. No tax dollars are involved.

Landscaping touches, such as shrubs and perennials, are also part of the project.

The goal is to have the sign in the ground by the end of October and complete the landscaping next year.

The long-range goal, said McKay, is to eventually place similar signs near three other entrances to the city - Highway 29 North, Highway 27 East and Highway 27 West.

Hockey and baseball players had something to cheer about at Monday's meeting.

The council accepted a quote of $89,193 to purchase an ice-resurfacing machine for the Runestone Community Center (RCC).

Frank J. Zamboni and Company of Paramount, California submitted the quote, the lowest of two the city received. It was slightly higher than the city's estimate of $87,000 and it includes sales tax and shipping.

The machine, commonly referred to as a Zamboni, will take a little while to get here. The delivery date is 525 days away.

The council also agreed to replace the infield grass at Knute Nelson Field at a cost not to exceed $47,700.

The low bidder for the project was Midwest Sports Supply.

The city decided to omit two alternate bids - one for a "no shock" pad and the other for a geo-textile fabric - that would have added $16,200 to the cost. City Planner Mike Weber noted that the shock pad is for football and geo-textile guards against weed growth, which isn't expected to be a problem with the infield.

The turf has an eight-year warranty and a life expectancy of 12 years.

The city expects to get a full payback on the purchase within 10 years because it won't have to pay for fertilizer, mowing or aeration. The turf still requires water, however, to keep the crumb-rubber base settled deep into the ground.

The turf is expected to handle drainage much better than the existing field. It's designed to absorb as much as 10 inches of rain in one hour.

The project is set to start "as soon as possible" and be completed no later than October 31.

In other action, the council:

--Hired a storm water consultant company to help the city complete a storm water management plan.

The city agreed to pay WSB Associates $107,835 to head up the planning process. The money was in the stormwater utility committee's 2008 and 2009 budget.

The plan, which will begin on September 24 and be completed in the spring of 2009, will include goals and policy development; design review process; a best management practices incentive program; and a developer's guide.

One of the first steps of the plan is to study all the pipe sizes, elevations and other details of the city's storm water system. The city will use the data to design a computer model to simulate storms and find out which areas are prone to flooding, according to Marty Schultz, assistant city planner.

Between 15 and 17 members are expected to serve on the steering committee that will determine the management plan, including representatives from the lake associations, Vikingland Builders Association, the stormwater utility committee, city staff and others.

--Accepted a petition to annex a three parcel, 184-acre tract of land in Lake Mary Township, adjacent to Cross Country Lane.

Zavadil Development submitted the petition to obtain city water. It owns all of the property that's affected.

The Lake Mary Township Board decided not to enter into an orderly annexation agreement with the city over the land. This meant that Zavadil Development had to petition the city for it.

In related action, the council also approved a first reading of the annexation petition.

--Accepted a petition to annex 193 acres of land in Lake Mary Township owned by the Nadeau Family Partnership, also adjacent to Cross Country Lane.

The owners don't have any development plans for the property yet, according to City Planner Mike Weber.

In related action, the council also approved a first reading of the annexation petition.

--Accepted a feasibility report for extending city watermain to phase 3, part 1A of the orderly annexation area with Alexandria Township.

The area includes County Road 42, Ridgewood Drive, Wood Duck Lane, Autumn Drive, Wintergreen Lane, Fairview Lane and Green Lane.

The report estimated the cost of the project at $1.2 million, which would be covered primarily through assessments on the benefiting landowners.

The city referred the project to its utility committee for further review.

--Proclaimed October 20-24 as National Business Women's Week.

The proclamation notes that women-owned businesses account for 28 percent of all U.S. business, generating $1.15 trillion in sales.

The Alexandria Area Business and Professional Women and the national BPW organization are each focusing on community awareness efforts that week.

--Proclaimed October 8-11 as Fire Prevention Week.

The proclamation notes that home fires killed more than 2,500 people in the U.S. in 2006 and that fire departments responded to nearly 400,000 home fires that year.

The theme of this year's week focuses on preventing home fires. Residents are encouraged to plan and practice a home fire escape plan.

--Denied a rezoning request from Allen Enterprises and Lee Johnson for property north of East Oak Knoll, south of the HiView Trailer Park.

They originally wanted to change the zoning from single family residential to medium-density residential but on Friday they asked that the request be withdrawn.

The developers may gather additional information and re-apply in the future, Weber said.

--Approved a zoning request to replat Anderson Heritage, the old Anderson Funeral Home location south of 7th Avenue and west of Jefferson Street.

The replat converts all or part of 11 platted lots, many of which have been either joined or split over the years, to four parcels.

--Approved a second and final reading to establish the salaries for the city council members and mayor for 2009 and 2010. The mayor will receive $7,635 next year and $7,865 in 2010 while council members will get $5,885 in 2009 and $6,065 in 2010.

The increases reflect the same 3 percent raise most city employees received.

--Appointed council member Sara Carlson to serve on a joint law enforcement study group with Douglas County.

Mayor Dan Ness noted it made sense to appoint Carlson because she's been serving on the city's law enforcement committee.

The city and county recently approved a "memorandum of understanding" to work together on building a new joint law enforcement center, which will include dispatching, within the new jail facility that's proposed at the site of the current public works building on 3rd Avenue West. (A new public works will be built by the fairgrounds.)

The memorandum concludes that it is in the "best interest" of the city and the county to continue to operate a law enforcement center within adjacent portions of a conveniently located building for both law enforcement agencies.

The city owns the land east of the proposed new jail site. Its park department, including an office and a garage, is located there.

The city will give the land to the county at no cost. Douglas County will assume responsibility for the operation of the dispatch services for both the city and county. Right now, the city pays the county about $200,000 to handle the dispatching.

Other city representatives on the study group include Police Chief Rick Wyffels and City Administrator Jim Taddei.

--Declared the final cost figures for improving Victor Street.

The project included sanitary sewer, watermain and storm sewer to a 420-foot section of Victor Street south of its intersection with 8th Avenue.

The total cost of the project was $86,155. The city will cover $17,274 of the project; the rest will be assessed to the benefiting property owners over 10 years at a 7 percent interest rate.

A hearing about the assessments is scheduled for October 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the city council chambers.

--Decertified a parcel from The Trails housing development's tax increment financing (TIF) district.

The parcel was excluded from receiving TIF benefits because the residents living there didn't meet the low-income tenant requirements.

--Listened to council member Carlson thank city residents and businesses for their patience during all the construction that's been going on in the city because of the southwest storm sewer project.

She said the infrastructure improvements are a sign of the city's growth and vitality at a time when other cities are struggling.

--Listened to council member Elroy Frank commend all those who helped with a countywide disaster drill that took place earlier that night.

Watching all the emergency response teams work closely together during the mock disaster "sent a chill through the bones," Frank said.

--Reported that there are vacancies to fill on two city committees - the airport commission and Housing Redevelopment Authority.

Those interested should contact city hall at (320) 763-6678.

--Issued a charitable gambling license to the Alexandria Red Line Hockey Booster Club to sell raffle tickets for a December 16 event at the RCC.

--Issued a peddler's license to Snip Incorporated/Great Clips.