Air at ice arena in Alexandria may soon be less humid

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted 3-2 to apply for a grant through the James Metzen Mighty Ducks program that was approved by the state Legislature in October as part of the bonding bill.

Vinnie Hennen, Runestone Community Center manager

The air inside Alexandria’s Runestone Community Center may soon be a little more comfortable.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted 3-2 to apply for a grant through the James Metzen Mighty Ducks program that was approved by the state Legislature in October as part of the bonding bill. The Legislature authorized to offer up to $2 million in grants statewide.

One of the types of grants offered is to improve indoor air quality. The city hopes to receive a grant to help install a new dehumidification unit at the RCC, which is estimated to cost $20,290. Dehumidification systems remove excess moisture from the air, eliminate musty odors and prevent the growth of mildew.

But, for the second time, the council decided not to apply for funds to buy ionization equipment for the RCC. Global Plasma Solutions said its filtering system would eliminate 99.4% of viral particles, including COVID-19, after the particles are exposed to ionization, according to independent laboratory testing results.

Last fall, the council voted against the ionization system, which would have been completely paid for through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act.


The Mighty Ducks program would have paid for some of the ionization cost but the city would have had to come up with $30,645. Council members said that if the council voted it down when it wouldn’t have cost the city anything, it didn’t make sense to include it now in their grant application.

RCC Manager Vinnie Hennen said he was disappointed when the council didn’t pursue the ionization equipment last fall. He noted that 375 children use the ice rinks in the RCC twice a week and it’s a tight area with not a lot of air movement.

Council member Bill Franzen questioned why the city would use the ionization system at the RCC when it’s not being used in schools or any other city building. “Fiscally, I have a difficult time with that right now,” he said.

Franzen, Roger Thalman and Dave Benson voted for the motion to apply for a Mighty Ducks grant for the dehumidification equipment only and not the ionization system. Todd Jensen and Bobbie Osterberg voted against the motion.

Big plans on Broadway

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct a 10-block section of Alexandria’s Broadway.

But relax – the project isn’t scheduled to take place until 2027.

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven brought the topic up while he was going over the highlights of the city’s highway committee meeting.

“While this project is still several years away, it will be a major project where we will want to partner with MnDOT on many things,” Schoonhoven said in a memo to the council. “We are at the very beginning stages of starting discussions on the scope of this project.”


Other items from the highway committee:

Sidewalk extension, maintenance. Staff is looking into updating city policy regarding when and where sidewalks should be required and clarifying maintenance responsibility. The committee is getting input from the parks and street departments and will talk with the planning commission and legislative committee before coming back to the council with recommendations.

Federal aid project selection. MnDOT has initiated the process of selecting potential projects for its 2025 funding cycle.The highway committee discussed several potential projects but no decisions were made.

Traffic calming island. Last summer, the city installed a traffic calming island at the intersection of 11th Avenue and Lake Street. Staff has reached out to this neighborhood to get their reaction to the installation. The committee will keep the council informed with additional information as it comes in.

City makes offer on land for 18th Avenue

The city is trying to buy a parcel of land for an extension and reconstruction project on 18th Avenue.

The project will realign 18th Avenue between Fillmore Street and Broadway.

The city hired Evergreen Land Services Company to help acquire property owned by Silver Maple Investments, LLC.

Evergreen appraised the value of the 10,645-square-foot parcel at $160,300. The city would be reimbursed through state aid and federal grants.


The council authorized staff to proceed with making an offer on the property. Council member Jensen voted against it.

Raapers owners receive permit

The owners of Raapers Eatery and Ale, which was destroyed in a February fire , have found a way to bounce back from their loss by expanding their catering business.

The council agreed to issue a conditional use permit to Andy and Cammie Rassat that will allow them to set up a commercial catering kitchen at their home at 2203 South L’Homme Dieu Drive.

Part of the kitchen they’ll be using is in a detached garage that used to be Andy’s hobby shop.

The Rassats will cook food for weddings and other events and deliver it to the local venues they’re serving.

No retail sales of products, or outdoor signs or storage of materials will be allowed at the site.

No goods or supplies can be delivered to and from the site except in an automobile or van owned by the Rassats.

More lines underground

ALP Utilities is putting more electrical lines underground next year.


The council agreed to call for bids on the project, which is estimated to cost $1,178,000. This includes the cost of the materials and the underground work.

The areas where the lines will be placed underground include McKay Avenue, Nokomis Street to Kenwood Street (Third to Sixth Avenue), and North Ash/Bryant Street.

The project was planned and approved by the ALP Utilities Board in its 2021 capital budget.

There is no financial impact on the city. ALP will pay for the project using a previous bond issue.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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