Alexandria hires consultant for Runestone Community Center expansion

In addition to adding a third rink to meet the surging demand for more ice time, the expansion will allow the RCC to host dry-floor events in the expansion area, which would free up ice arenas for skating and curling.

A proposed $10 million expansion project at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria would add a third rink to the southwest side of the facility (the left side of the above drawing). (Contributed)

The Alexandria City Council agreed to hire 292 Design Group as the architectural and engineering consultant for the $10 million expansion of the Runestone Community Center.

It also authorized staff to prepare an agreement for the services. The RCC Commission reviewed the three proposals and recommended 292 Design Group.

The Minnesota Legislature included the expansion in its bonding bill. The state agreed to provide roughly half the cost, $5.6 million.

The city, likely using tax abatement bonds and private funds raised by groups that use the facility, are expected to cover the rest of the cost.

In addition to adding a third rink to meet the surging demand for more ice time, the expansion will allow the RCC to host dry-floor events in the expansion area, which would free up ice arenas for skating and curling.


Following are other stories from the April 12 meeting not covered in other council stories:

RCC gets Mighty Ducks grant

The air inside the Runestone Community Center should be more comfortable soon.

The council received word that its $10,145 grant application to replace the arena’s dehumidification controls was approved. It's expected to bring in more fresh air to the main rink. The money is coming from the James Metzen Mighty Ducks grant program.

It will cover 50% of the cost. The city will pay the rest using its capital improvement fund or a portion of the RCC’s annual building repair and equipment funds.

New chemical dependency treatment center

The council voted to send a letter to the Douglas County Board showing its support for a new Minnesota Adult Teen Challenge chemical dependency treatment center that's proposed on Lake Winona.

Eleven acres of land was purchased on the lake where the center could be built, according to council member Bill Franzen.

The letter will welcome Minnesota Adult Teen Challenge to the Alexandria area. It provides Christian faith-based, residential care to young people and adults who struggle with life-controlling problems.

Street project update

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven provided an update of 2021 street projects and other topics:


L'Homme Dieu Drive. The preconstruction conference was held April 9. The project is scheduled to start on April 19 and be complete by the end of May. The contractor is J and J Excavating.

2021 local street improvements. Work is expected to start in May and will be complete by the first week in July. Riley Brothers is the contractor.

Highway 29 sidewalk extension project. This is currently in the review process by MnDOT. The project is expected to be constructed in late summer or early fall.

The Nature Conservancy. The city was recently contacted by representatives from The Nature Conservancy that’s looking to partner with an outstate city on a project that would involve wetland and wildlife habitat protection and flooding issues. Schoonhoven said he’d keep the council informed as this develops.

Potential transportation funding. The city is tracking potential transportation funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. There are many details yet to be worked out but it appears that $20 million will be distributed as local federal aid to Greater Minnesota.

Street condition survey. Staff will update the council on the latest survey at the April 20 work session. They will also discuss projects that are proposed in the city's five-year capital improvement plan and upcoming MnDOT transportation projects.

U.S. Bicycle Route 20. MnDOT is in the early planning stage of designating a new bike route through Minnesota as guided by Minnesota's bicycle system plan. U.S Bicycle Route 20 will run from the Wisconsin border to St. Cloud, pass through Sauk Center, Alexandria and Fergus Falls, and end in Moorhead. Schoonhoven has been appointed to the project advisory committee for the project.

18th Avenue grant. The council supported Schoonhoven's application to receive a federal grant that could provide up to $4 million for the 18th Avenue reconstruction project. If approved, this would quadruple the $980,000 in federal funding the city is receiving for the project and free up money for other city street projects.


More calming islands to be installed

More traffic calming circles will be placed in Alexandria soon.

As recommended by the city’s highway committee, the council agreed to install temporary traffic calming islands at the intersections of Fifth Avenue and Lake Street, Fourth Avenue and Kenwood Street, Eighth Avenue and Lake Street, and 11th Avenue and Lake Street for the 2021 season.

Staff was also directed to to meet with the neighborhood at North Park Street and Agnes Avenue to discuss their traffic concerns.

In another highway committee action, the council approved a request for restricted parking on 11th Avenue near the new Lincoln Elementary School parking lot.

The school is having an issue with delivery trucks accessing this service drive when cars are parked along the curb. No parking signs will be placed there.

Musical playground donation accepted

The council officially accepted a $26,538 donation from the Alexandria Rotary Club for the musical playground in Big Ole Central Park.

The playground was installed last summer. After reviewing the project, city staff noticed that a resolution accepting the donation wasn’t completed last fall.

The Rotary also set aside some funds for maintenance. The main item is replacing mallets for the instruments, estimated to cost between $200 to $300 a year.


Charitable gambling permits issued

Customers of Copper Trail Brewing Company and Boulder Tap House in Alexandria will soon be able to play pull tabs.

The council agreed to give charitable gambling permits for the Alexandria Youth Baseball Association to sell the pull tabs at both locations.

Alley may be vacated

The council gave preliminary approval to vacate a 142-foot section of an alley on the south portion of Block 60, where the Alexandria City Hall is located.

A land survey revealed that an ALP Utilities electric feeder line and a CenterPoint Energy gas main were located outside the alley.

The city plans to grant an easement to the two utility companies that would allow the existing lines to remain where they are.

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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