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Council OKs agreement for veterans park

An illustration of Veteran's Memorial Park, to be constructed at the corner of Broadway and 8th Avenue. (Contributed)

A development agreement between the city and the new Veterans Memorial Park was announced at the Alexandria City Council meeting Monday night.

The agreement clarifies the roles of the city and the nonprofit organization that is working to build the veterans park, with the city taking over both ownership and maintenance responsibility for it once the project is complete.

The park will include stone memorials containing the names of veterans past and present in what used to be known as Legion Park at the corner of Broadway Street and Eighth Avenue, east of Viking Towers.

It is to be substantially completed by Nov. 1, the agreement states, with engraved tablets installed by July 4, 2020. Veterans Memorial Park leaders are in the early stages of planning an event on that date to celebrate the memorial.

"We're very excited," Gabe Pipo, the Veteran Memorial Committee's chairman, told the council.

The group is continuing to raise funds for the project's second phase, calling for a new public restroom and gazebo area. Preliminary concept drawings for the bathrooms and gazebo were approved by the Park Board Feb. 12.

The agreement also includes an acknowledgement by the developer that the total cost of the project is $615,249.

Once complete, the city will use its staff for maintenance and care for the memorial, and be responsible for electricity and irrigation in the park.

Roundabout request

Ronald Sik, 524 5th Ave. E., told the council of several crashes that had occurred near his house, including one prior to the meeting at 5th and Lake Street.

He and others had approached the council in 2017 and raised the issue, and for the past two summers the city created a temporary roundabout in the intersection. A traffic calming circle, as City Administrator Marty Schultz called it, functions like a roundabout and forces people to slow down.

"We'd appreciate it if you'd think about putting it in year round," Sik told the council. "We need to do something. People are going too fast, and then with the snow."

He said that the summer experiment reduced traffic by about 50 percent.

Stop signs on Pioneer

The council approved installing stop signs at the intersection of Pioneer Road and 50th Avenue.

The change was prompted by traffic issues at the high school, said City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven. He said the school, on a trial basis, will be turning its main access on Pioneer Road into a one-way entrance only, with traffic flowing to a one-way exit only on 50th Avenue.

The highway committee recommended adding stop signs on 50th at the intersection with Pioneer, creating a three-way stop, and spacing the 40 mph school speed limit signs farther apart, extending the 40 mph zone by perhaps 200 feet.

Council members Roger Thalman and Bobbie Osterberg were not convinced the trial would be a solution, but both voted with the rest of the council in approving the resolution. Osterberg said she wanted traffic data as a result of the changes by the end of the school year.

ALP goes underground

Scott Dietz from ALP Utilities requested authorization for bids for materials and construction for its project of relocating overhead electric lines underground.

In 2019, the areas it will be working in are: Casa Marina Lane; Mid Nokomis Area (Little Germany); City of Nelson; and Westwood Drive Area.

The bids on materials are set to be opened March 20, and the construction bids April 10.

The council also approved a water supply plan update, which Dietz said ALP is required to do every decade.

Public hearing on TIF

A public hearing for Monday, April 22, was set in connection with a tax increment financing application from Alexandria Housing II LLP.

The project calls for constructing a 34-unit, three-story apartment building with 21 heated attached garage stalls, in partnership with the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The cost of the Central Lakes Apartments project is estimated at $6.8 million.

In 2017, the council adopted a resolution supporting TIF for the project.

The project has received a $1 million grant from the Minnesota Workforce Housing Development Program, in partnership with the city.

The Alexandria HRA acquired the property through tax forfeiture last year. It's located north of the Central Lakes Trail, just west of Birch Avenue and south of Lake Park Avenue.

The project is the first part of a three-phase development. The second phase calls for a Minnesota housing workforce multifamily building and phase three consists of single-family homes. When complete, all three phases, along with adjacent neighborhoods, would have direct access to the trail.

Other business

In other matters, the council:

• Issued a gambling permit to Alomere Health for a bingo/raffle at Broadway Ballroom on April 2.

• Issued a motorized vehicle racing license to Runestone Go-Kart Association for 21 races, primarily on Fridays, from May 10 through Sept. 28.

• Approved authorizing Officer Tony Golden to attend specialized training in March in Portland, Ore., and Sgt. Tony Kuhnau to attend the national Toward Zero Deaths conference in Louisville in late March. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is paying expenses for Golden, who is replacing Jim Gripne on the Internet Crimes Against Children team. TZD grants are paying for Kuhnau's expenses, with the city covering both officers' normal salary when they attend.

• Approved a special event permit for the Bread to the Nations 5K Run for Clean Water in Haiti at Alexandria Covenant Church on Sunday, May 5, from 2:30-5:30 p.m.

• Approved a special event permit for Alexandria Technical and Community College for its commencement on May 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Runestone Community Center, including traffic control. Eric Karlstad, representing ATCC, noted it draws around 4,000 people, making it to his belief the RCC's biggest event.

• Approved a temporary liquor license for the Alexandria Fire Department Relief Association for a fundraising concert at the RCC on April 27.

• Approved first reading of an ordinance amending the 2019 fee schedule for private/vacation home rentals to $240, plus $12 per bedroom. The change aligns the city with the fee Horizon Public Health collects for similar rentals in the county.

• Approved opening and accepting a portion of 18th Avenue connecting Rosewood Lane and County Highway 46/McKay Avenue.

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