Sheila Craig, Preston Historical Society, described plans for the placement of a railroad history interpretive sign at the trailhead during the May 6 council meeting.
The intention is to locate the 4’x6’ sign north of the caboose. Plans call for an overhanging roof with lights. It is estimated to cost $5,500 for the sign, installation and lighting. The Preston Area Community Foundation will contribute $2,500 and another $2,500 is pledged by the Historical Society. The bid includes landscaping and concrete. Craig said they are working with Ron Schroeder.
The interpretive sign is the brainchild of Jon DeVries. He has secured permission for use of pictures and maps that are to be displayed on the sign. The Milwaukee Road’s influence on Preston is detailed. The second side of the sign recalls a day in the life of the railroad. At the bottom of that side is a remembrance of those that worked on the railroad. Permission was secured from Milwaukee Road to use logos and colors on the sign.
Mayor Kurt Reicks stated it will be a great addition, as people have a lot of questions about the railroad cars and why they are there. Unanimous approval was given to allow the Historical Society to install an informational sign at the Trailhead.
Craig added the Historical Society has a 25-year lease for the old school house, which it uses as a booth during the county fair. Also, the society will hold its seventh annual tractor ride this fall.
Discussion ensued about using the old Preston Dairy and Farm building for storage of the society’s artifacts. Councilman Robert Maust reported the board of Dairy and Farm said it is fine to use the building under their ownership until the city takes ownership. Maust said at this point there is no need for electricity or water, just in need of a dry storage facility. Reicks maintained there is no need for the council to approve use of the building for storage until the city takes possession of the building.
Other business in brief
•A six-month agreement between the city of Preston and Fillmore County for the removal of tanks and soil testing on the tax forfeited Preston Oil Products property was approved. Councilman David Collett voted no.
The council approved the hiring of Chosen Valley Testing at an approximate cost of $6,000 (Collett voted no). They will supervise and subcontract the work, excavation (removal of pumps, piping, and tanks) and soil sampling. The samples will be analyzed. If there is contamination, the state will eventually clean up the site, funded 100% with state funds (Petro Fund). When the site is clean, the city could attempt to purchase the property from the county.
Hoffman explained this process could take two to three years. The state will look for a responsible party before cleaning the site; if no responsible party can be located the state will clean up the site.
•The state of Minnesota has requested a temporary easement on a portion of the former Anderson land adjoining the veterans home site. The easement was approved unanimously.
Ten acres of the land purchased for the veterans home was approved to be rented for use as cropland during the 2019 crop season. Ron Gehling will pay $200 per acre for use of the land. Hoffman explained this is the most economical way to maintain the property. The earliest any construction will begin is the spring of 2020.
•Approval was given for the hire of Ilene Edwards, Lisa Brainard, and Ann Thacher as seasonal workers at the visitors center.
•The next city council meetings will be held on May 20 and June 3.