After listening to Faribault County Commissioner Greg Young say the County Board wanted Second Street by the county courthouse to stay the same width it currently is, the Blue Earth City Council agreed to do so.
They also agreed to let the Soil and Water Conservation District attempt to convince landowners on the soon-to-be-reconstructed street (including the County Board) to install boulevard rain gardens.
At the Tuesday night meeting, commissioner Young explained how the board had met that very morning and voted to keep “the footprint” of the block of Second Street north of the courthouse the same meaning not increase the width of the street.
Currently that block is 52 feet wide and has diagonal parking on both sides. In order to keep this style of parking the street would need to be widened eight feet to 60 feet. The extra width would come from the boulevard on the north side of the street and would cost an extra $15,000.
“We (the county) don’t want to spend $15,000 needlessly just to widen it,” Young says. “And we don’t want the residents on the north side to lose their trees and boulevards.”
Young also reported the board would want to work with the city on the configuration for parking on the street. But he did throw out some ideas such as parallel parking on one side or making this block a one-way street.
“But, for now, we thought we needed to make it clear right away we want the street to stay the same width it already is, so plans can be made,” he says. “We can work out the parking later.”
The council agreed and rescinded a previous vote to widen the street to 60 feet by passing a new motion to keep it at 52 feet.
The other motion dealing with Second Street came after hearing a presentation by Michele Wigern of the SWCD office.
“We would like the city’s permission to contact property owners on Second Street about installing boulevard rain gardens as part of the street project,” Wigern explained. “These would help filter and slow down rain runoff on the street.”
The SWCD has a program which would pay for 75 percent of the cost of the rain gardens. The property owner would be responsible for the installation of the garden and 25 percent of its cost.
“We would contact all of the residents on the street,” Wigern says. “We would not turn away anyone who wants to install a rain garden; likewise we would not tell anyone they have to do it.”
The SWCD office would hold a workshop in the spring for everyone who agrees to install the garden.
“Blue Earth has been proactive with rain gardens,” Wigern says. “There are 17 or 18 in the city already.”