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Chimney Swift tower/kiosk to be built

Fri, Aug 10th, 2012
Posted in Preston Government

Representatives of the Zumbro Valley Audubon Society (ZVAS) addressed the Preston City Council at the August 6 meeting about their preference to gift the soon to be built chimney swift tower/kiosk to the city. Mayor Kurt Reicks and councilman David Harrison were absent.

Earlier agreement language drafted by city attorney Dwight Luhmann was a concern for members of the ZVAS. The council had approved the building of the tower/kiosk in May contingent on an agreement by the parties involved. According to the original agreement draft, the ZVAS would be responsible for providing liability coverage and future maintenance.

Ruthann Yaeger of the ZVAS made it clear that they had raised over $3,000 to build the structure at no cost to the city. However, with limited financial resources, the small organization had no interest in owning the structure and being responsible for future maintenance. The ZVAS wanted to gift the structure to the city as it will stand on city property.

It was noted that one of the four sides of the kiosk will be used to provide information for the Preston Historical Society. The structure is to be built to the right of the historical elevator and railroad track, when one faces the Trailhead Inn. Part of the reason for this location is that people reading the information on the kiosk will be able to look in a direct line to the old Elementary School chimney that has been recognized as the number one chimney swift site in the state of Minnesota. The new tower may provide a nesting site for a pair of chimney swifts.

Greg Munson, former director of the Quarry Hill Nature Center, designed the tower and will oversee its construction. Dale Benike will be the mason and builder and Mike Kelly will produce the kiosk signage.

Councilwoman Kay Spangler said she was concerned about possible vandalism. Councilman Charles Sparks suggested if maintenance is needed, the city could ask the ZVAS to help raise funds.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman estimated that it may cost the city about $100 per year for maintenance on average for shingles, wood and signs.

Luhmann explained that with ownership there would be the obligation to maintain it. Hoffman said it would have little or no effect on liability premiums. The council approved the amending of the agreement to accept ownership of the tower/kiosk and the obligations that come with ownership.

Other Business In Brief

•The annual contribution of $2,500 was approved for the Preston Historical Society. The 2012 contribution had been budgeted.

•Hoffman explained that the city’s Comprehensive Plan is about 13 years old. Generally, the plan is updated about every 10 years. Planning and Zoning had discussed completing a new plan in 2010, but due to budget concerns their request was withdrawn. P and Z has requested that up to $10,000 be budgeted for 2013 to develop a new plan.

Hoffman explained the importance of a plan for the future development in the community. He noted changes over the years in land use; for example, new townhomes. There will be several public meetings concerning the new plan. A professional planning consultant will be hired to complete the plan.

The allocation for a new comprehensive plan was approved.

•The next council meeting will be on August 23 and will be held at the fire hall, due to the remodeling of the council chambers.

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