Sidewalk extension project in Alexandria strides ahead

Alexandria City Council calls for bids on the first of three projects that would extend the sidewalk along Highway 29 all the way from 15th Avenue to 44th Avenue over the next three years.

Here’s good news for pedestrians who want to walk safely alongside Highway 29 on the south side of Alexandria.

The council agreed to call for bids on a sidewalk extension that will begin on the east side of the highway from 18th Avenue to 34th Avenue.

The project is the first of three consecutive projects that will extend the sidewalk all the way from 15th Avenue to 44th Avenue over the next three years.

The project will provide a much-needed pedestrian link between Alomere Health, the Midway Mall shopping center and the Viking Plaza mall, said City Administrator Marty Schultz.

The cost of the total project is estimated at $506,000 and will be mostly paid through a local partnership program grant of $415,000. The remaining $91,000 will be paid through state aid funds.


Bids will be opened July 29.

Work will start later this year and is expected to be completed this fall.

Police officers to undergo physical fitness tests

Alexandria Police Chief Scott Kent told the council about a new standardized physical fitness test that's being developed for prospective new officers, and those returning to work after an extended leave.

Kent said he’s been working with other agencies for about three years on the concept that may eventually include law enforcement departments throughout the entire state.

“This is a validated standardized test for any law enforcement agency to use in the state,” Kent said in a memo to the council. “It will encompass muscular skeletal strength testing and also a series of seven different agility testing from standing and kneeling to lifting and dragging, performing stair climbs, CPR, a multitude of things.”

A benefit of the tests: It should help police departments reduce their insurance liability risk, Kent said.

Up until this point, his department, like many others throughout the state, has not had a certified way of validating officers’ physical fitness from pre-employment to return to work. Now Alexandria is among the two departments that are being highlighted by the League of Minnesota Cities for developing the test.

The cost, estimated at $1,000 or less, is well within the police budget. Depending on new hires and those returning to work situations, Kent doesn’t expect the service would be used more than six times a year.


The cost is roughly $200 a session, which is less expensive than a psychological evaluation during the pre-employment process, Kent said.

Mobile food licenses issued

The council issued three mobile food truck licenses to Miller Concessions of Foley for a five-day period in the Fleet Farm parking lot.

The trucks sell cheese curds, french fries, lemonade, corn dogs and other fair-type food.

A required certificate of liability insurance has been submitted, along with copies of licenses from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Health.

The fee is $100 per unit.

The council also issued a mobile food truck license to Ruby’s Pinoy Food of Underwood.

Drug task force changes approved

The council agreed to amend its joint powers agreement with the West Central Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force to include the city of Pelican Rapids and remove Fergus Falls.

The amendment will have no impact on the city's financial commitment to the task force.


Other members of the task force are the counties of Douglas, Becker, Otter Tail, Grant, Pope, Wadena, and the cities of Glenwood, Starbuck, Wadena and Detroit Lakes.

The task force, which has been going for more than 30 years, Kent said, coordinates and strengthens efforts to identify, apprehend and prosecute drug related offenders, including the sale of illegal drugs, possession of illegal drugs and other related crimes.

‘Missing link’ project likely pushed back

The city's highway committee is recommending the council to delay a state-aid project that would improve the connection between North Broadway and Third Avenue to the Central Lakes Trail – referred to as the “missing link” – for at least one year.

No action was needed Monday night but will likely go before the council later this summer, said City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven.

The goal of the project is to make the north end of Broadway, the part that's located right next to the Central Lakes Trail, safer and more accessible to bicyclists, pedestrians and others who use the trail.

The project was scheduled for 2022 but because of the deteriorating condition of pavement and the high value of traffic on Nokomis Avenue, the council agreed to move up a project to improve Nokomis from Third Avenue to 22nd Avenue to 2022 instead.

The committee also recommended looking at the design of the missing link project to see if portions of the project could be constructed separately and to look into ways of reducing the overall project cost.

Schoonhoven also updated the council about North Nokomis traffic issues. The committee discussed issues regarding traffic at the three-way stop at the intersection of County Roads 11 and 42. County Engineer Tim Erickson will review crash data at this intersection and will ask the sheriff’s office to monitor the location.


In other street-related action, Schoonhoven provided updates on some of the major projects. All work is generally complete on the 2020 projects. All that remains is shoulder and drainage work on 17th Avenue and turf restoration at several locations.

On 2021 projects, all work is complete on L’Homme Dieu Drive and the local street improvement projects.

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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