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Wells Council gets MnDOT update

2026 Highway 22/109 project could include bumpouts, bike lanes

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | May 2, 2021

Despite the fact that the project is not slated to be done until five years from now, the Wells City Council once again spent a long time at their meeting last Monday night hearing an update on the Highway 22 and Highway 109 reconstruction project planned for 2026.

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) employees Anne Wolff and Mat Thibert attended the meeting virtually and discussed several aspects of the project.

Wolff gave an update on the public feedback that was collected between Nov. 30, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021.

“We had 161 participants in the public feedback collection,” she said. “There were 135 who filled out the survey and 75 people who also made comments about the project.”

The top priorities and concerns were safety, business and neighborhood access during the work and improvements for people walking. Other items were concerns over landscaping, less traffic congestion and adding biking for people.

Thibert spoke about how MnDOT would come out this June and simulate what bumpouts would look like at intersections.

“We will paint the area a bumpout would take, at the intersection of Highway 22 and Third Street SW, and put cones around the area,” he said. “It would not be an actual bumpout, just show how they would work.”

He added bumpouts may be installed at several intersections along the project, and they want to gather public comments on them. They will also be striping some bike lanes at certain areas and seek public feedback on having them or not.

“These will be temporary, not permanent,” Thibert explained. “They are just to show what bike lanes could look like.”

The two said they would update the council later on what comments they have heard through their interactive website.

They added that they want to finalize some of the ideas by this fall and start work on the plans in late winter.

In other business, the council also heard the annual city audit report from Layne Kockelman, of Abdo, Eick & Meyers certified public accountants firm.

“The main point is that we have given a clean audit opinion on this year’s audit,” Kockelman said.

One other main point was that the city of Wells was using several checking accounts for the general fund and those will be consolidated into one account for this year.

Another point was that the fund balances decreased about $134,000 during the 2020 year. It went from $1.405 million to $1.271 million.

“We weathered the COVID storm pretty well,” city administrator CJ Holl commented. “The library saw a $20,000 increase in funding, the deputy registrar about broke even despite being closed for two months and the theater ended up a touch under water with a deficit because it was not operational and was closed all year.”

As far as debt service goes, Holl pointed out that some of the seven bonds will fall off in the next couple of years, before the North Broadway one will go into effect.

Kockelman pointed out the sewer fund breaks even every year, the golf course showed a $22,000 loss, but does every year, and the liquor store fund was way up in 2020.

In other business at the meeting, the Wells Council:

• Voted to set the golf course clubhouse rental at $50, same as the Community Center. They also voted to allow alcohol to be served at both the clubhouse and the Community Center but to require added insurance coverage by the renter.

• Voted to purchase a first of its kind golf course payment kiosk at a cost of $11,595. The council expects to pay for the unit out of the next round of COVID dollars the city will receive.

• Voted to not remove a handicap parking space in front of the former Jake’s Pizza. They had voted earlier to remove it, but adjacent businesses requested it stay in place.

• Accepted resignations from part-time liquor store employees Kendall Olson and Amber Loe, and approved the hiring of part-time liquor store employee Kim Van Brundt.

• Approved the hiring of Cassie Nelson as pool manager and Andrew Heggen and Maggie Schaefer as assistant managers.

• Approved a Joint Powers Agreement between the State of Minnesota and the Wells city attorney and Wells Police Department. It is for five years and replaces one which is expiring.

• Next Wells City Council meeting is slated for Monday, May 10, at 5 p.m. at the Wells Community Center.