Alexandria basketball courts headed for a rebound

The basketball courts near the new Veterans Memorial Park in Alexandria may soon get a big upgrade.

At Monday night’s Alexandria City Council meeting, Parks Director Bill Thoennes requested authorization to call for bids on a project that would replace the pavement at the courts, shape the area for better drainage and apply new pavement that would be 3.5 inches thick. The cost is estimated at $40,000.

Thoennes has applied for a court refurbishment grant through the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If that money doesn’t come through, the Matt Kjelland Foundation has stepped forward to help with the costs of expanding the court from two courts to three and installing six new basketball fixtures and hoops, an expense of about $2,000 each. Lighting will also be upgraded.

The foundation hosts an annual fundraiser, a 5K race, in honor of Kjelland, who was 30 years old when he took his own life in 2016. After being diagnosed with Lyme disease, he was struggling physically and mentally.


With the funds that it has raised, the foundation wanted to give back to the community, Thoennes said.

“With the Veterans Memorial Park being completed this summer and dedication taking place on July 4, this would be a great opportunity to redo the basketball courts and to make the whole park look top notch,” Thoennes said.

Full steam ahead for pickleball

In another outdoor athletics-related action, the council accepted three quotes to build new pickleball courts in Alexandria City Park.

Mark Lee Excavating of Alexandria will do the excavating, grading and pavement work for $45,330; Andi’s Fencing of Glenwood will provide the fencing for $29,788; and C&H Sports Services of New Market will do the surface and line painting for $14,650.

The park department will also purchase eight nets and posts from Pickleball Central for $3,434 and is looking into buying two shade canopies in the middle walkway of the courts for about $8,000.

The total cost of the project is expected to range from $93,202 to $101,202. The council’s motion caps the cost at $101,202.

Alexandria’s tobacco age is now officially 21

The council took final action to update its tobacco ordinances to reflect federal law changes that have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

It voted unanimously to make the changes, which were recommended by the city’s Legislative Committee.


The amendments will also change the city’s compliance checks at tobacco stores by allowing 18 to 20-year-olds to conduct the checks under the direction of the Alexandria Police Department.

Street project bids accepted

The council accepted a bid of $1.76 million for 2020 street and utility improvements.

Central Specialties of Alexandria was the low bidder.

The total cost of the project, with engineering, is $2.15 million, which is less than the city’s estimate of $2.3 million.

The bid includes street improvements on Woodland Park Drive, along with storm sewer and sanitary sewer, for a total cost of $149,221.

In other street-related business, the council accepted a $909,718 bid from Mark Lee Excavating to make improvements on Scenic Heights Road and Deerwood Drive. The city’s estimate was just over $1 million.

The Scenic Heights portion of the bid, a cost of $632,937, includes street and trail work. The Deerwood Drive portion amounts to $275,780. The street will be improved from Scenic Heights Road to Northside Drive, about 1,820 feet.

A total of $168,619 will be assessed to the benefitting property owners on Deerwood Drive. Eight lots will be assessed a total of $61,316 and $107,303 will be assessed on future developments.


Electric lines go underground

The council accepted a $580,298 construction bid to move more electrical lines underground as requested by ALP Utilities.

The bid from Anderson Underground of Sauk Rapids was well below the estimate of $720,000.

The work will be done in three areas:

  • North Noonan Park area, Lake and Maple Street north of the park to Sixth Avenue.

  • Fillmore Street, from 15th Avenue to 22nd Avenue.

  • South Broadway, from 22nd Avenue to 50th Avenue.

The total project cost for materials and construction is estimated at $1.8 million. The expense was approved by the ALP Utilities board in its 2020 capital budget.

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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