Monday night was a big night for schools in Alexandria.
Expansion projects at Discovery Middle School and Woodland Elementary School received zoning approval from the Alexandria City Council.
And a new charter high school, Kalon Prep Academy, received the go ahead to use the former Fingerhut building as its location.
Discovery’s conditional use permit will allow the school to build a 31,620-square-foot addition on the northeast side of the building and make stormwater and utility modifications.
The addition includes new basketball courts and an expanded physical education program that will include Alexandria Public Schools Community Education activities. The southern portion will add gymnastic programs that are currently in the old Fingerhut building.
A public sidewalk will be added on the west side of McKay Avenue to help get students off the road and onto the sidewalk so they can come in the back door entrance.
The permit was granted with four conditions – a building permit is required, any exterior lighting must be hooded and directed away from public streets, easement encroachments must be resolved and a final drainage play must be reviewed by the city engineer.
Woodland received a conditional use permit to build a 9,700-square-foot addition and parking lot on the southwest corner of the building.. The school is adding a large playroom and creating a new home for “Shenanigans,” an indoor playground currently at 720 Fillmore Street.
Woodland will also add classrooms for its early education center.
The existing playground on the west side of the building will be moved north and include a large open space area for outdoor activities.
Parking will be increased to the south and the school will maintain the loop that’s there now for the early education drop-off area.
The permit was issued with six conditions, which require a building permit, final drainage plan, landscaping plan, parking plan, utility connections and exterior lighting to be hooded and directed away from public streets.
Kalon Prep Academy received a conditional use permit to lease space in the former Fingerhut building at 1910 Aga Drive.
This is a change from two months ago when Kalon received a permit to use part of the old Kmart building on Highway 29 South. As it turned out, the site would have been too expensive to remodel and the school wouldn't have been able to meet its timeline, according to Chris Kragenbring, director of the academy.
The latest permit, unanimously approved, allows a 20,000 square-foot school with classrooms, administrative offices, gym and supportive spaces and facilities. The building, owned by American National Bank, has a total of 33,865 square feet.
Council member Scott Allen recused himself from the discussion and vote because he is the president of American National Bank.
Kalon, a tuition-free school, plans to open this fall for students in ninth through 12th grade.
The permit came with three conditions – a building permit is required if the project involves significant construction, one paved parking stall is required for every eight students plus one stall per faculty member, and any exterior lighting must be hooded and directed away from public streets.
In another zoning action, the council approved a final plat for Rosewood Meadows Second Addition – Wayside Farms, LLC.
A preliminary plat for the project was approved back in 2011 and this is the third phase of the development.
The final plat subdivides a remnant of an existing outlet and includes four single-family lots along Rosewood Lane.
Three conditions are required – separate sewer and electric connections are required for each dwelling, evidence of title must be submitted, and a developer’s agreement must be finalized before the plat is recorded.
New activities at Veterans Memorial Park
The new Veterans Memorial Park in Alexandria will be recognizing the new branch of the U.S. military, the Space Force.
The park will fly a Space Force flag and display a special plaque honoring members of the Space Force, according to Russ Oorlog, chairman of the park committee.
Oorlog also filled the council in on a motorcycle and motorhome tour that be stopping in Alexandria to see the new park, starting in April and continuing into the fall. He said some members of the group plan to stay two or three days while others will just make a quick visit before moving on.
Also, Veterans Memorial Park will be the site of Alexandria's Memorial Day program on Monday, May 31. As part of the ceremony, the names of the 84 latest veterans to have their names carved on the park's monuments will be read out loud.
For more information about the park, go to alexveteranspark.org.
Marching and running events approved
Signs of a more normal spring are in the air.
The council approved two special permits:
The Vikingland Band Festival Parade on Sunday, June 27. Set-up will start at 10 a.m. and the parade will run from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on Broadway, from Third Avenue to 17th Avenue. Police will help with traffic control.
Eighteen bands have applied to participate and the Alexandria Area High School band will once again serve as the host band.
The drum corps competition, typically held on the Saturday before the festival, will not take place this year.
The Alexandria Area YMCA’s “Bunny Run'' on Saturday, April 3, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The event will begin and end at the YMCA, using the Central Lakes Trail, West Lake Cowdry Road and County Road 82 NW. About 75 participants are expected to complete the four-mile run/walk.
Both permits came with the condition that they must comply with all Centers for Disease Control and public health guidance for the COVID-19 pandemic.
More power lines to go underground
The council awarded bids for the next phase in a project to put more overhead power lines underground to help stabilize the electrical grid.
The low bids for the transformer and secondary cable for the project totaled $237,163 and were submitted by Irby Utilities of Eagan, RESCO of Moorhead and WESCO of Fargo. The bids came in well under ALP Utilities’ estimate of $260,000.
There is no impact to the city budget. ALP Utilities is paying for the project from its own funding sources. The City Charter requires the council to approve the award of bids of projects greater than the threshold for public advertisement of bids, $175,000.
The areas where the underground work will take place include McKay Avenue, Nokomis to Kenwood Street, Third Avenue to Sixth Avenue and North Ash Street/Bryant Street.
Extra efforts against unsafe driving
The council agreed to act as the fiscal agent for the “Toward Zero Deaths” program, once known as “Safe and Sober.”
The Alexandria Police Department will again be the lead agency for managing the program’s state grant of $6,150, which will be used for additional education and enforcement regarding DWI, speeding, seatbelt use and other safety measures.
The police department will partner with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on the effort that will take place from Feb. 15 through Sept. 30. The grant will pay for extra patrols of between 100 and 120 hours, according to Police Chief Scott Kent.