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Lanesboro City Council

Fri, May 4th, 2001
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Council deals with art commission business, creates parking study groupBy John TorgrimsonMonday, April 30, 2001

The Lanesboro Art Center Commission has identified a preferred site to locate the proposed Regional Art Center. The commission voted unanimously to investigate purchasing the Cheese Factory site on Parkway Avenue, which includes the Cheese Factory, White Front Caf and vacant lot to the north.

Council member Hal Cropp, who is a representative on the art commission, briefed the city council at their Monday, April 16 meeting.

Cropp told the council that the site was selected for a number of reasons, including its proximity to the St. Mane Theatre. He noted the fact that two of the three properties were available for sale, and that the amount of space met the square footage requirements for the center. Cropp also said that the commission believed that development of the site would help revitalize commercial activity in that part of the downtown.

While the city council took no formal action regarding the Cheese Factory site, the council did approve spending $7,500 to retain the law firm of Leonard, Street and Deinard to do preliminary legal work regarding the three properties. The firm will look into ownership and liability issues and identify any land-use, zoning , and environmental concerns. The council also approved hiring George Sutton and Associates for $6,100 to commission schematic designs of the art center.

"Many people are concerned about the scope and scale of the art center," Cropp said. "The Art Commission believed that it was important that the public be able to see how this will look in downtown Lanesboro."

These appropriations will come out of the $100,000 grant the city received from the Minnesota Legislature to do pre-design work related to a Regional Arts Center.

Doug Baker came before the city council to discuss the problem of parking in Lanesboro. Baker, who lives on Kenilworth Avenue, said that parking by bikers is creating problems for residents in a three block area near the downtown. Baker said that it is especially hard for older folks who have to walk uphill to get to their homes.

"It shouldnt be unreasonable for people to expect to be able to park in front of their own homes," Baker told the council.

The council agreed that parking is a problem and noted that earlier attempts to solve this problem have failed.

City Administrator Barbara Hoyhtya said that the DNR is supposed to be making signs for the city, directing tourists to use the Bass Pond parking lot. But Hoyhtya said that Lanesboro was down on the DNRs list and probably not a high priority and that it might be a while before signs are posted.

Hal Cropp told Baker that he sympathized strongly with him, but was opposed to solving the problem piecemeal.

"We need to have adequate signage to direct people to the parking lot and possibly limit parking in the downtown commercial district," he said. We need to think of an overall strategy that is workable, enforceable, and not a burden to the police department."

Council member Peggy Hanson said that perhaps it was time to have a small group of citizens meet to start looking at the parking problem from a bigger perspective.

"The whole town has issues with parking," Hanson said, noting that the creation of a Regional Art Center will only add to the problem.

The council agreed to form a citizens group to look into parking and asked Baker to serve on it. Hal Cropp was appointed from the council. It was also suggested that someone from the downtown business community and someone who lives near the school also serve on the committee.

Alley Parking

The long standing issue of parking in alleys seems to finally have been resolved. The Police Department has measured all of the alleys in the downtown and have concluded that only two alleys are suitable for parking while still allowing emergecy vehicles to pass by: the alley behind the Root River Saloon is 23 feet wide, (17 feet with vehicles parked there); and the Beacon Street alley that intersects with the alley behind the Root River Saloon is 20 feet wide, (15 feet with vehicles parked there).

The city attorney has been instructed to come up with wording that would amend the city ordinance to allow for no parking on city alleys with the exception of the two aforementioned alleys. Chief of Police John Carlin said that no residential alleys are wide enough to allow for parking.

Telephone Tower

Andy Bobrytzke from Midwest Wireless was before the council to discuss a proposal to lease space on the Zenith Street water tower for a telephone tower. Bobrytzke said that it would be an extender tower that would pick up the service from Fountain and strengthen the reception down in the valley. He said that in addition to the tower space, Midwest Wireless would build a small building on the ground. The cell phone company would lease the space from the city for $300 per month over a five year period.

Council member Kevin Drake asked if the tower would interfere with existing antennas and towers, including the Fire Departments. Bobrytzke said that they have a clause in the contract where Midwest Wireless cannot cause interference with existing services.

Peggy Hanson asked Bobrytzke how his company had come up with the lease amount and questioned some of the wording in the contract. Bobrytzke said that the rate schedule is based on past history in communities with similar populations. He said that increases in rent paid during the contract period would be based on changes to the Consumer Price Index..

Council member John Dollar joined Drake in making a motion to approve the contract with Midwest Wireless. Discussion followed with Peggy Hanson and Hal Cropp asking that the matter be tabled so further research could be done on pricing. The vote on tabling the matter was split two to two with Dollar and Drake for moving ahead with the project and Hanson and Cropp for tabling the motion. Mayor John Brose broke the deadlock by voting to table the matter.

Fitness Center - Library

Lanesboro Mayor John Brose told the city council on Monday that he had been contacted by a representative of the Lanesboro Swim & Recreation group about the feasibility of taking over the library space in the community center for use as a fitness center.

The library has been plagued by moisture problems for some time. One suggestion was to see if the library could be put in the school, as the school is in the process of remodelling. Brose said that the fitness center would be a good add-on to the community center as it could take advantage of the gymnasium and locker rooms.

Council member Peggy Hanson thought that the library board would be interested in exploring the possibility of a new site, but was unsure of whether the school was the right place. Brose said that the schools remodelling plans are pretty well set, and is unsure whether they would be interested or not. No action was taken by the council.

By John Torgrimson

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