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BE planning for 2021 street work

By Staff | Sep 27, 2020

This intersection at the corner of 10th and Nicollet streets in Blue Earth is in tough shape. Portions of the two streets are now slated for total reconstruction next summer.

While several large street construction projects in Blue Earth are trying to be wrapped up this fall, the City Council took first steps towards two more street projects for 2021.

During their meeting last Monday night, the council heard a report from the city engineer, Wes Brown, concerning the Street Committee’s recommendation for 2021 street projects.

Those two projects include several blocks of North Hood, North Walnut and East Third streets, as well as doing blocks of West 10th and South Nicollet streets.

The 10th and Nicollet Street Project had been looked at for 2022, but was moved up due to the condition of the streets, as well as the poor condition of the sewer line, Brown said.

“We are not sure the sewer line will last another year,” Brown said. “It is in very poor shape.”

The area of Nicollet Street is the far south end, which ends in a cul-du-sac. Brown explained that some of the sewer lines are thought to go in strange directions.

But it was another issue that concerned councilman Russ Erichsrud, who lives in the Nicollet cul-du-sac block and who is also on the Street Committee.

“I don’t see how we can do both 10th and Nicollet in the same year,” he said. “We have many older residents there and where are they going to be able to park? How will they get to their homes?”

Brown said he thought the plan would be to do 10th Street first, then have the Nicollet Street residents park on 10th. He was also questioned about getting emergency vehicles into the area during construction.

“I think they would find a way to get there in case of an emergency,” Brown said. “It would be part of the plan.”

Councilman Glenn Gaylord asked about the boulevard in the middle of the street, suggesting it would be removed.

“That decision has not been made,” Brown said. “Maybe we can do one side of the street at a time, so there would be access. It will all be part of the plans when they are done.”

The council voted to have Brown and Bolton and Menk proceed with drawing up plans and cost estimates for the two proposed street projects for 2021.

A final decision to actually proceed with the projects or not will be made later, in early spring after a public hearing.

In other business at the meeting, the council:

Agreed to fund a new fence at the 14th Street Ballfields.

Brent Legred of the Blue Earth Baseball Association reported they had received a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Twins towards the project, and the City Council agreed to fund the remaining cost, approximately $6,690.

Councilman Gaylord proposed talking to the school about picking up half of the cost of project minus the $5,000 grant, but councilman John Huisman said he felt this was not a time to ask the school to fund this.

Legred added that they needed to proceed with the project in the next few weeks, or else they would have to return the grant money.

Received an update on the dispersing of COVID-19 relief funds. Discussion centered on the use of approximately $60,000 in funds not yet designated.

Administrator Kennedy proposed spending some of the funds on doing major technology upgrades to both the City Hall council chambers and the meeting room at the Ag Center, as well as purchasing two new laptop computers.

Voted to authorize getting Requests for Proposals for auditing the city’s financials for the next three years.

Granted permission for the library to be open more than the current 15 hours per week and also to hire back one part time person for 15 hours per week.

Head librarian Eva Gaydon was at the meeting to ask for additional staff and to open for more hours. She also explained all of the duties that are being done at this time.

The council granted adding the 15 hours of staff time and sent the matter back to the library board to decide how the additional staff hours should be used.

Discussed a parking issue on Main Street. During the public comment portion of the meeting business owners Shelley Greimann, owner of the Prairie Chic, and David Greer, owner of Legacy Trees, addressed the council about parking at their businesses located at the corner of Main and Seventh streets.

Greer said there are times the few spaces on Seventh Street are filled for long time periods and so are the ones on Main Street in front of their businesses.

Discussion centered on painting the stripes on the parking spaces to limiting the time a vehicle can be parked in a space.

In the end the council sent the matter to the Street Committee for their recommendation.

Discussed a case of a house on First Street with junk in the yard and unmowed lawn.

The council decided to send a letter to the property owner stating it needed to be cleaned up and mowed, or the city would get a court order and clean it and mow it and bill the homeowner.