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BE Main Street plan approved

By Staff | Feb 19, 2016

This drawing of a typical block of the Blue Earth Main Street construction zone shows brown shaded areas that are going to be colored concrete in the cross walks and paver bricks in the bump out areas. This is the area from Seventh Street, on the left, to Sixth Street, on the right. The project will also include the block of Sixth Street west to Nicollet Street, and one more block of Main Street to the north, to Fifth Street. Construction is expected to begin on or around June 1. Construction will start with the block of Sixth Street by City Hall as phase 1, then move to Main Street a block at a time.

The Blue Earth City Council gave approval to a final proposed plan for the Main Street reconstruction project slated for this coming summer.

But, they did not quite give approval to the original plan that was presented by city engineer Wes Brown and had been recommended by the city’s street committee.

The council tweaked it just a little.

Brown explained the plan included colored concrete for the cross walks in the street, and some use of paver blocks in the bump out portions of the sidewalks.

But, it was the use of in-ground planting areas in the sidewalk that caused the council to debate the overall plan.

“We will be using low-maintenance plantings in these areas,” Brown said. “They won’t require much water and will die down in the winter, so they allow for easy snow removal on the sidewalks.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes said he thought the plan had been to have above-ground planters, not the in-ground type.

“What about the uniformity,” Scholtes asked. “Would we have these types for two blocks and the above ground ones in the other areas of downtown?”

City administrator Tim Ibisch said it would be possible to cut holes in the sidewalks in other areas and add the in-ground planters everywhere else if the council desired.

Mayor Scholtes also had an issue with the number of planters in the plan. There were eight listed per side of each block.

“I think that is just too many,” he said. “Two would be more like it.”

The council discussed sending the plan back to the street committee for more discussion, but Ibisch said they are running out of time to get the final plans ready and submitted to the state. Engineer Brown agreed, saying he needs time to prepare the plans and it needs to be submitted by mid-March.

The council voted to approve the proposed plan, with changes in the number and types of planters, to two above ground per block.

But, they did agree that the exact number and where all they would be placed could be decided at a later date.

The street committee had decided on using colored concrete for the crosswalks, but not for the bump outs.

“They decided to go with paver bricks,” Brown said. “They will be much more permanent and can easily be maintained.”

After he was asked by the council what the paver blocks would be set on, Brown said they would be on concrete. The council agreed that was a good idea.

It was also suggested that the sidewalks be “beefed up” due to snow removal equipment.

“There are quite a few skid loaders used for snow removal on the sidewalks,” Mayor Scholtes said.

Brown said that means the depth of the sidewalk should be increased from four inches to six.

“Four inches will handle things like a four-wheeler,” he said. “But a skid loader or other heavy vehicles would require six inches.”

In other business for the city engineer, council member Glenn Gaylord asked about a new stop sign on West Circle Drive and Moore Street.

“The residents say that used to be a yield sign and they wonder why it is now a stop sign,” Gaylord said.

Brown said he would check into the reason for the change.