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Council springs into action with decisions on baseball games, Awake the Lakes, half-marathon and roadwork

Spring was in the air at Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting.

Council members took action on a new concession area for baseball games at Knute Nelson Field, the "Awake the Lakes" festival, a first-ever half-marathon race and a street improvement project.

New concession area

The council agreed to amend the city's lease agreement with the Alexandria Beetles to include a new concession area.

A light-brown storage building near the first base line at Knute Nelson Field is being converted into a concession facility.

The Beetles plan to name it "Gardonville Lodge" and use it during its 35 home games as a hospitality deck, just like the Tastefully Simple Terrace, Hilltop Lumber Loft, Strike Zone and VIP Suite.

Fans pay a special price to use the decks, which includes a game ticket, food, beverages and beer (for those 21 and older).

The Lodge would be separated from the nearby Tastefully Simple Terrace and offer food and beverages for fans sitting inside and outside. The park board must approve the remodeling project.

The Alexandria Youth Baseball Association (AYBA) would use the Lodge as a traditional concession area with direct sales of only pop and packaged goods. This includes American Legion, VFW, and Alexandria high school games. The Beetles reserve the right to negotiate with the AYBA whether other non-league games may use the concession stand.

At its March 8 meeting, the council tabled the concession stand leasing changes until it could clarify how beer sales would be handled.

The following conditions were attached to the Beetles' on-sale beer license and also approved Monday: The license is effective May 15 to August 21, 2010; sales are permitted only on dates with the Northwoods Baseball League (the Beetles' league) games are scheduled; beer sales may start not more than one hour before a game starts and must end by the end of the 8th inning; the Beetles must implement and enforce the beer sales with on-site security personnel and a monitoring system approved by the police chief; beer consumption is limited to persons in the designated bleacher, grandstand and hospitality areas.

Under the current terms of the lease, Alexandria will receive $330 per game from the Beetles for using the stadium.

Half-marathon race

The council approved plans for the first-ever "Lakes Area EnduRUNce" half-marathon and 5K on May 14-15.

The event is a fundraiser for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and an outreach effort of Lake Community Church.

Organizers plan to offer a 13.1 miles competitive half-marathon on Saturday as well as a fun 5K walk/run on Friday for those who are looking for a less competitive experience, according to Melissa Moore, coordinator.

The half-marathon will take place in east Alexandria, using the Central Lakes Trail near Highway 27, Birch Avenue, Geneva Road, County Road 73 and County Road 9.

The 5K course in northwest Alexandria will use County Road 44, Ridgewood Drive, South Darling Drive, Wallace Street, Woodcrest Road, Donna Drive and West Meadow Lane.

Runners and walkers will have a change to win prizes in their age categories and for participating.

A short children's race and spaghetti feast is also planned, Moore said.

One of the goals is to bring families into Alexandria for a weekend, Moore said. Organizers are hoping to draw between 100 and 300 runners for the half-marathon and several hundred more for the 5K.

Awake the Lakes

Coni McKay, executive director of the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, received the council's permission to temporarily close 2nd Avenue from Kenwood Street to Broadway to accommodate the annual "Awake the Lakes" over Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31.

The approval hinges on permission from the park board, street department and police.

The Chamber is partnering with community groups and anticipates holding similar activities as past years, including a rib fest, street dance, car show, musical entertainment and a beer garden.

Existing Memorial Day weekend events will also be part of the celebration, including a City Park church service, Habitat for Humanity's Motorcycle Ride and the Memorial Day parade on Monday.

An improvement on Elm Street

Roadwork will take place on Elm Street, between 11th and 12th Avenue soon.

The council agreed to reconstruct the road with new curb and gutter, widening it to 36 feet - five and a half wider than it is now - and put in new eight-inch diameter watermain with new one-inch diameter water services to each lot.

The work will include removing and repairing existing driveways in the one-block area to match the new paved surface. Existing valves and manholes will also be readjusted, along with turf restoration.

New sidewalks will also be replaced, where needed, and the $24,099 estimated cost would be split 50-50 between the city and eight property owners, based on frontage. The assessments, which vary from $1,004 to $2,008, may be spread over 10 years at an interest rate of 7 percent.

The total cost of project, with the sidewalks included, is estimated to cost about $98,000. The city and Alexandria Light and Power will cover the costs of the street and water improvements.

Other action

In other action, the council:

--Ratified Mayor Dan Ness's decision authorizing Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels to hire a patrol officer.

This will allow the department to fill the vacancy left when officer Pat Callaghan died in a snowmobile crash while he was off duty in January.

Because of budget concerns, the council had previously placed a moratorium on creating new city jobs, the mayor noted, but this action fills an existing vacancy.

"And you hate to say it's a replacement because you can't replace Patrick," the mayor said. "We are filling a vacancy."

Wyffels noted that when he started working for the department in 1987, there were 15 officers handling 4,439 calls. Today, there are 19 police officers responding to more than 17,000 calls, the chief said.

Even though the city is facing tough economic times, it will still need more officers in the future to keep the community safe, Wyffels said.

The chief expects the hiring process will take until May or June 1 to complete.

--Agreed to call for bids for anyone who is interested in moving the city's steel park department building along 3rd Avenue West.

The building is being moved to make way for a proposed new Alexandria Police Department facility.

The park department is relocating to a new building by the city's street garage. The move is expected to be complete by April 15, according to City Administrator Jim Taddei.

--Approved a final plat for the Knute Nelson Senior Living Addition east of Pioneer Road (County Road 106), across the road from the site of a proposed new high school.

The council had approved a preliminary plat in October 2008.

The plat was approved with the following conditions: connection to public utilities is required; title must be submitted to the city attorney's office; a developer's agreement must be executed before the plat is recorded that includes a schedule for the proposed public improvements as well as any cost-sharing or assessments; a park dedication fee must be paid that amounts to 10 percent of the undeveloped value of the land.

--Accepted a price quote from Backhaus Appraisals of Alexandria to help acquire easements for a waterline project in the South Darling Drive area as part of the phase 3, part 2 orderly annexation process.

The company agreed to do the appraisals for $85 per parcel, 51 parcels total.

--Was reminded that a city council work session is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, March 29 in the large conference room at city hall to discuss the proposed storm water management ordinance.

Work sessions are open to the public. No action may be taken.

--Proclaimed April 10-17, 2010 as "The Week of the Young Child" in Alexandria.

The proclamation encourages citizens to work to make a good investment in early childhood in Alexandria.

It notes that organizations that are working to improve early learning opportunities, including early literacy programs, can provide a foundation of learning for children.

--Issued an on-sale liquor license for the Alexandria Golf Club.

The fee was pro-rated for nine months and amounted to $3,375.

The golf club will have to apply for a Sunday liquor license as well, the council noted.

--Issued the following licenses: charitable gambling - Douglas County Historical Society to sell raffle tickets for a June 12 event at the Alexandria Airport; massage therapist - Rebecca Byrne, doing business as Lakes Area Biofeedback at 503 22nd Avenue East; temporary liquor - St. Mary's Catholic Church for a Sunday, September 19 event.

--Was informed that the Alexandria Airport building is on a short-list of projects that may receive federal funding for improvements. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has also indicated that it might be able to provide matching funds as well.

--Was informed by Mayor Ness that City Administrator Jim Taddei recently received the title of "Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerk" from the Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association of Minnesota.

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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