Progress made on street projects in Alexandria

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven provided an update to the Alexandria City Council about street projects at Monday's meeting:

44th Avenue. All concrete has been poured except for a section of curb and gutter and concrete pavement that was left out to allow truck access to the pond area. The pond area is nearly complete. All sidewalk and pedestrian ramps have been poured. Electrical conduit has been plowed in and light pole bases have been poured.

Runestone Avenue (Housing and Redevelopment Authority) project. Runestone Avenue is being shaped in preparation for paving. The trail is cleared but excavation has not begun past the end of the road. The first lift of paving is scheduled for June 19.

Nevada Street (ALASD) project. All work is complete except topsoiling, seeding and cleanup.

2020 street and utility Projects. Work has started on the Cedar Street/17th Avenue portion of the project. Sewer and Water mains are installed on Cedar Street. Water and sewer main installation has started on 17th Avenue. Next week the contractor will continue with water and sewer main installation and will start on services.


2020 local street overlay project. The overlay is complete on all streets except Madison and Ridgewood. The paving on these streets is scheduled for June 19.

Third and Kenwood Street pedestrian crossing demonstration project. This project is proceeding. There will be four scenarios that will be analyzed as part of this study; the existing, unaltered island; the existing, unaltered island with the Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon in-place; an extension of the island allowing a west bound to south bound left turn with the RRFB inplace; and an extension of the island with no left turns allowed with the RRFB in-place. A counter measuring the existing configuration will be installed on June 24. Following are other items from the June 22 meeting not covered in other council stories.

Stopping harassment

The city of Alexandia is trying to do its part to stop harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

It approved a resolution that requires all city employees to complete respectful workplace and anti-discrimination training.

The city’s policies regarding those issues, which were adopted in 2000, are being updated using recommendations from the League of Minnesota Cities. City staff is also working with City Attorney Tom Jacobson in making sure the updated policy reflects current best legal practice.

Code of conduct amended

The council approved amendments to its code of conduct as recommended by City Attorney Tom Jacobson.

The changes update and streamline the current code adopted in 2016, Jacobson said. The council worked on the changes for several months.

One of the revisions adds a section on Equal Employment Opportunity, discrimination, harassment and having a respectful workforce, which was approved earlier in the meeting.


Other highlights from the 15-page code (quoted words indicate additions that were made):

If a council member is personally offended by another council member, the offended council member should “note their concern during the meeting” and make notes of the actual words used and follow the council’s procedural rules to request the other council member to justify or apologize for the language used.

In unofficial settings, the code advises council members to make no promises on behalf of the council. It is appropriate to “express personal feelings or positions on an issue or to” give a brief overview of city policy and to refer to city staff “or council” for further information. It is inappropriate to overtly or implicitly promise council action, to promise city staff will do something specific (fix a pothole, remove a library book, plant new flowers, “approve a license or a permit, install a traffic sign” etc.

If attending a board or commission meeting “of which the council member is not a member” be careful to only express personal opinions.

Local emergency extended

For the third time, a declaration of a local emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was extended.

The declaration was ratified on March 18 and extended by ordinance on April 13 and May 26. It will now be extended to July 31.

On June 12, Gov. Walz extended the state’s declaration of an emergency through July 13. The council’s decision wasn’t directly related to Walz’s action. Instead it allows the city to be eligible for state and federal emergency funds and gives the city more flexibility at the local level, such as calling emergency meetings if a health situation warrants it.

The July 31 date will be reevaluated again at the council’s July 27 meeting.


Traffic calming island policy

With requests for traffic calming islands on the rise in Alexandria, the council adopted criteria and guidelines for placing the temporary materials at intersections as a way to reduce speeding.

Highlights of the new policy:

All traffic calming islands should be located on local streets, not state routes, county highways or trunk highways.

Residents from the immediate neighborhood are normally the ones who start the request for traffic calming islands but the council or its highway committee may also initiate the process.

A crash history analysis and speed study will be performed at the intersection in question.

A neighborhood meeting will be held before an island is installed and a council member from the neighborhood’s ward would attend.

The highway committee will evaluate all requests and make a recommendation to the council by considering the following factors: traffic speed and volume, crash history, site distances, intersection configuration, neighborhood perception of the need, neighborhood traffic patterns, adjacent land use, and cost of installation and maintenance.

If approved by the council, the street department will install the traffic calming island as a temporary system for at least the first year.


Liquor fee relief

Establishments in Alexandria that had an on-sale liquor license but weren’t able to serve liquor inside their restaurants from March 17 to June 1 because of the COVID-19 pandemic will get some relief.

The council agreed to grant a three-month refund of their 2020 liquor license fees. The annual fee of $3,600 will receive a refund of $900. The city will notify all license holders, who must submit a written request for the refund. This will help the city keep track of the money.

The total cost to the city, if all license holders request the refund, will be $17,100.

Fire-damaged sidewalk

The council tabled spending $4,100 to repair a sidewalk on the 400 block of Broadway that was damaged in a Feb. 25 fire downtown.

The fire also damaged curb and gutter, and sidewalk along Fifth Avenue and along the alley, which would cost about $27,000 to repair.

The city wanted to fix the Broadway portion first because it is along the state highway system and is a heavily traveled pedestrian path.

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven recommended using $5,000 that was left in the local street overlay project fund to pay but it turned out that there was no money left in the fund.

The council voted to table making a decision to its July meeting when it would have more information about funding options.


Donations accepted

The council accepted an $800 donation from Pro-Tainer to help install two black aluminum railing sections at the Veterans Memorial Park.

The council also accepted a $1,615 donation from Geneva Capital that will go to the police department to help further the goals of public safety in the community.

Board of Public Utilities appointments

Two members were appointed to the Board of Public Utilities – Jason Bachman and Bill Finley.

They will fill the seats held by Nolan Wolkow and John Kes, effective June 30. The council thanked Wolkow and Kes for their service.

Fireworks license

The council issued a license to Cub Foods to allow indoor fireworks sales at its store at 2612 South Broadway.

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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