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Chimney swift kiosk in Preston

Mon, May 14th, 2012
Posted in Preston All

Greg Munson, Rochester, explained project plans for a Chimney Swift Kiosk to the Preston City Council at their May 7 meeting. Munson said he has been involved with the Swifts in the area for about 12 years. The birds are in the area for a few months in the summer. Mayor Kurt Reicks was absent.

Munson said the Swifts have been coming to this site for about one hundred years. Audubon Swift Counts completed in 2011 have determined that the count of nearly 1100 entering the chimney of the former Preston Elementary School makes it the number one site in the state. The count was made August 30, 2011.

The chimney on what is now Trailhead Suites no longer functions as a chimney. The chimney, which had been damaged with a lightening strike, has been restored recently by the Minnesota DNR Non-Game Wildlife Division.

Munson asked for the council’s permission to construct a tower/kiosk near the restrooms of the Trailhead Inn. The tower is to be 16 foot high and have a 4 foot by 4 foot base. It could provide a nesting site for one pair of Chimney Swifts, and educational information for visitors to the Trailhead site. Munson said additional funds for the project have been raised, including $1,000 from the Preston Foundation, $300 from Minnesota Audubon, and $2,000 from the Corson family.

The kiosk may also highlight information on the Cliff Swallows that nest under the bridge. Munson said both birds help control mosquitoes and other flying insects. He hopes that a web cam can be placed in both chimneys.

The council gave its approval contingent on an agreement being drafted between all parties involved.

Other Business In Brief

•City Administrator Joe Hoffman detailed plans for the purchase of the Versterheim apartment complex in Preston by the Bluff Country Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). The HRA is trying to get Small Cities Grant Funds between $100,000 and $200,000 to assist with the purchase.

The city of Preston would need to act as the official applicant. There would be no cost to the city and the city would not be the owner. The property is privately owned currently. Hoffman said it is a “win-win” all the way around. The HRA would manage and take care of the property going forward.

The council by consensus supported the application, but tabled the resolution making Preston the applicant and legal sponsor until the next meeting when they could get more information from the HRA.

•Approval was given to purchase two X26 model TASER’s for the Police Department at the cost of about $2,500.

•The hire of Jill Neuzil was approved as recommended by the Tourism Board. She will be the Saturday worker at the Tourism Center.

•The Trout Days committee will donate $300, or about half of the cost toward the purchase of t-shirts for the 7th and 8th graders who will be joining the Fillmore Central marching band in the Preston Trout Days Parade.

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