Aging technology that keeps track of the complex stormwater drainage system in Alexandria is headed for an upgrade.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted to pay Widseth Smith and Nolting $34,000 to update the city’s stormwater system database and its Geographic Information Systems.

The action was recommended by the city’s Stormwater Management Committee that found issues with the current database, such as redundant items from multiple sources with unknown accuracy, disconnected features and missing key attributes.

The goal of the project is to produce a dataset that will be used for system maintenance, preliminary construction design, public meetings and managing assets.

The work will be completed in 2020.

Stormwater committee honored

The city’s Stormwater Water Management Committee was recently recognized by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in its statewide newsletter.

The committee is responsible for managing stormwater utility funds and addressing drainage and flooding issues.

The MPCA noted that the committee “takes pride in being responsive to city residents” and has the goal of seeing that all concerns are dealt with in a way that allows residents to feel that their voices have been heard.

The committee includes Dwain Schuette, Tom Klemenhagen, Jim Scott, Gail Kulp, Ben Zehrer, Tim Bayerl and Mark West.

Deerwood Drive report

The council ordered a report to determine if improvements on Deerwood Drive would be cost effective.

The council took several steps toward paving the road in the fall of 2018. It eventually decided to construct sanitary sewer last year and leave the paving until 2020.

Although a hearing on the proposed assessments with the benefitting property owners was held on Nov. 13, 2018, city staff recommended to conduct the hearing again to use up-to-date cost estimates.

The project could be part of a group of street projects that are bid together.

Planning and zoning action

The council took preliminary action to vacate a platted alley north of Pizza Ranch and retain the utility easement on the site.

Pizza Ranch, which requested the action as part of an expansion project, and ALP Utilities have signed an agreement on the easement location.

The dead-end alley between Broadway and Fillmore Street, south of 15th Avenue, will be vacated, allowing the restaurant to expand and provide additional parking to the northwest.

In other planning and zoning items, the council:

  • Approved a conditional use permit to Brian DeWenter of West Central Auto Glass to move his auto glass repair shop to the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and South McKay, which is zoned for general business. The shop is located on the southeast corner of Third Avenue and Broadway that is being redeveloped.

  • Gave preliminary approval to vacate portions of Oak Street and Second Avenue in the Ostendorf Addition. The property is landlocked and only used by customers of Tiremaxx. Owner Lee Ostendorf will take over the maintenance of the road and realign some of the access to the back of the property for better traffic flow. He told the city his current parking lot is getting full and this will help.

  • Approved a conditional use permit from Nicholas Klimek that will allow open and outdoor storage and display of motor vehicles in a light industrial zoning district. The property is located at 1910 39th Avenue West in the Airport Industrial Park.

  • Issued an interim use permit to Chris Carlson with Hud-Hens, LLC to allow temporary and outdoor storage of docks and lifts without an on-site sales office, for no longer than seven months. The site is located south of 1301 North Nokomis Street near Tru Lumber and the old Alexandria Dock Works property.

Liquor licenses

The council voted to renew 20 applications for on-sale and Sunday liquor licenses in 2020.

The businesses are Boulder Tap House, Angelina’s, Alexandria Elks Club, DJ’s Tap House, Doolittles, D. Michael B’s, Fajitas Place Family Mexican Restaurant, Runestone Eagles Club, Garden Center Lanes/Fat Daddy’s/Broadway Ballroom, Mi Mexico, Rancho Viejo, Redbird’s, Lure Lake Bar, Pike and Pint Grill, Raapers Eatery and Ale, Depot Express, Holiday Inn, Garden Bar on Sixth, Fort Chippewa VFW Post and Zorbaz.

The licenses cost $3,600.

Also, the Alexandria Golf Club received a nine-month seasonal license for $2,400.

The Alexandria Police Department reviewed all the applications and found no violations.

Sidewalk sale permits

The council agreed to a request from the Downtown Alexandria Merchants Association to issue the association one additional sidewalk permit next year.

The permits allow businesses to conduct sales on the sidewalk in front of their stores. When the ordinance was passed in 2004, the association was allowed four permits per year.

It will now have permits for five events – the Memorial Day sidewalk sale in May; the Wine, Ale and Art Crawls in June and July; the July sidewalk sale; and the Crazy Days Sale in August.

The association noted that the sidewalk sales help bring people to downtown Alexandria.

Council member Todd Jensen said he supports the sidewalk sales as long as the association makes sure that the sales won’t impede the flow of pedestrians and wheelchairs. A representative for the association said they will monitor the flow.

Fund transfer

The council voted to transfer $150,000 from the general fund to the Revolving Improvement Fund to help pay for a sewer and street reconstruction project on Nevada Street.

The city’s financial policy calls for maintaining a fund balance of between 35 to 50 percent of its operating revenues, which is recommended by the state auditor’s office. This would leave the city with enough money to cover five months of operating expenditures.

Last year, when the fund balance exceeded five months, the city voted to use $150,000 to help pay for the cost of the Geneva Crest street project.

Holiday Open House

The city will hold its annual Holiday Open House on Thursday, Dec. 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. at City Hall.

City looks into asbestos at old REA building

The council agreed to hire Dale Larson of Montevideo to determine how much it would cost to remove asbestos in a building the city is looking into buying, the old Runestone Electric Association site at 124 7th Avenue West and 713 Fillmore Street.

Asbestos, which was a common material used in constructing buildings decades ago, is a health hazard linked to cancer and other health problems.

The cost of the study will not exceed $2,500.

Gambling permits issued

Three charitable gambling permits were approved: Alexandria Area Arts Association to sell raffles at the Andria Theatre on April 27; American Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education to sell raffles for an event at the Eagles Club on Dec. 21; and on April 18 at the Holiday Inn.