RCC expansion support

The Alexandria City Council is trying once again to get funding from the Minnesota Legislature to help pay for a proposed $8 million expansion at the Runestone Community Center.

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The city applied for funding in two past legislative sessions but it was not approved.

Last December, the city requested $4 million from the state Legislature for the expansion. The city and privately raised funds would have covered the rest. As part of energy upgrades that were recently completed at the center, the infrastructure is in place that would accommodate a third dry floor or sheet of ice.

This time around, the city is stressing the regional appeal of the community center not just for ice skating but for all types of events.

At its meeting Monday night, the council agreed to send an application to the Minnesota Management and Budget. It notes that the expansion "will make a significant impact on the local and regional economy and provide a benefit to the overall general welfare of the community, region and state."

The application adds that the city has completed pre-design work studies that have identified potential costs of the expansion and improvements.

The application will be considered as part of the Legislature's 2018 bonding bill.

Sunday liquor

Although a little-known provision in the state's new Sunday liquor law allows cities to prohibit off-sale liquor on Sundays, Alexandria has decided to allow the sales from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting July 2.

This mirrors the law passed in the last legislative session.

The council approved a first reading of the ordinance change back in April but waited until now in case there were any last minute changes in the law or how it's interpreted.

As it turned out, the council could have approved stricter hours, or prohibited sales completely, said City Administrator Marty Schultz who consulted with the League of Minnesota Cities.

Either action, however, would have required additional public hearings.

The council voted 5-0 to allow the sales from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which was supported by Cash Wise Liquor back in April.

Andy Mellgren, manager of the two city-owned liquor store, said the stores will monitor the sales this summer and find out what impact the new law is making and whether it is worth it to keep the city liquor stores open on Sundays.

Outdoor music

The council approved a first reading of an amendment to city code that would prohibit any outdoor music that is audible from a public road after 11 p.m. This includes music from outside speakers or live performances.

The city received a couple of police calls and an email last summer regarding loud music coming from restaurants. In the past, the city has tried to resolve the complaints under its existing noise ordinance but the section dealing with outdoor music is lengthy, difficult to follow and uses outdated terminology such as referring to phonographs, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz.

The goal of the amendment is to provide police with clear, unambiguous language when they are called out for a noise ordinance complaint. Violators will be issued a citation.

During a public comment period, Charlie Meyer, owner of Fat Daddy's Bar and Grill, noted that because of the smoking ban, bars have outdoor patios and provide music to those customers, which may make it difficult to comply with the 11 p.m. restriction.

Council member Bob Kuhlman said that the 11 p.m. time was more than reasonable and that bars should be able to shut down the outside music by then.

"Not everyone turns into a pumpkin at midnight," responded Meyer.

Kuhlman noted that was true but added that some people also don't like loud music that late at night.

Special events

The council approved seven special event permits - Ellie's Legacy Pet Rescue 5K Run/Walk on June 24; the fourth annual Alexandria Senior Center Fun Run/Walk/Bike on July 1; Zion Lutheran Church's free summer lunch program that runs from June through August; Alexandria Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Lakes Area Endurance runs on June 23-24; Junior League Baseball Tournament on June 23-15; the Legion Baseball Tournament on July 7-9; and the Legion Baseball District Tournament on July 20-23.

Also, Garden Center received temporary off-premise community festival liquor licenses to sell alcohol at the Legion baseball tournaments.

Speeding on Fifth Ave.

Temporary speed bumps will be placed at the intersection of Fifth Ave. and Maple St. and a "traffic calming island" will be installed at Fifth and Lake St.

Residents in the area have raised concerns about high speed traffic in that area, which they say is especially dangerous because of the large number of small children in the neighborhood.

The council, heeding the advice of the city's highway committee, agreed to install the speed bumps and the island at a cost of about $800 as part of a pilot project to see which option is more effective.

The materials will be in place for about two weeks, beginning in July.

Speed of vehicles will be measured using a speed trailer before and after the devices are installed.