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Preston Council looks at 2008 street projects

Fri, Apr 11th, 2008
Posted in Government

Bill Cox, Public Works, presented maps and descriptions of three suggested projects to Preston City council members at their April 7 meeting. Work in the downtown area could be wrapped up with a mill and overlay of portions of St. Anthony and Mill Streets. A cost estimate was offered of $23,684.40 for that area.

A section of Chatfield Avenue from the school to Circle Heights Drive leading to the Branding Iron Restaurant may be combined with the tennis court project. Cox maintained that a sidewalk along Chatfield Avenue connecting from the school to the existing sidewalk along Hwy. 52 would be desirable. Father Francis Galles asked if there would be parking in the area available for tourists who may wish to photograph the proposed 30 foot artistic sculpture of a trout in the pond. Hoffman answered that there should be and these improvements would compliment those efforts. The total of street and sidewalk improvements for Chatfield Avenue is estimated to be $78,448.60.

Cox detailed the poor condition of Jefferson Street. He added that there have been several water main breaks in the area in the last few years. Cox explained that the curb and gutter is in good shape, but the street would need reconstruction to improve the water main and to check the sewers. The estimated cost is $29,218.56.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman stressed that these were preliminary figures. Cox asked the council to approve a feasibility study to be completed by the city's engineers to get more accurate estimates. Hoffman added that he sees some of the improvements suggested in the Chatfield Avenue and the Jefferson Street areas to fall into a "gray" area in the existing assessment policy, as to whether they would be considered maintenance or total reconstruction. The feasibility study was approved.

Mayor Kurt Reicks suggested that a request be made to the county engineer that the mill and overlay of a portion of St. Paul Street be made a high priority. A motion was approved to do that.

Bill Cox has been looking for a used Street Sweeper to replace the current aged machine. He set out to find one costing in the area of $50,000. He related to the council that he has received only one response meeting the department's specifications, a machine with 1025 hours on it at a cost of $55,000. Cox listed other machines from other vendors to give the council comparisons. Hoffman and Cox maintained that this machine is the best buy, considering the hours used. The city staff recommended the purchase and the council approved it.

The city's current sweeper will be advertised and offered to interested parties.

Storm Sirens

Fillmore County Coordinator Karen Brown representing the Labor/Management Safety Committee requested that the city of Preston look at placing an emergency warning siren at the East end of the city to alert employees at the Sanitation and Highway Departments in an emergency.

Hoffman explained that the city has a siren in storage, but would need to purchase a controller for it at a cost of about $3025. He added that during a test it was recognized that the controller for the siren on Judy Lane is inoperable. A new controller would also be needed here on the South hill for another $3025. He estimated that the siren has about a half mile range for citizens that are outside. Councilman Robert Sauer suggested that he look into whether FEMA provides funding for sirens.

The council approved the purchase of two controllers for the East end and the South hill.

Other Business

• County Assessor Cynthia Blagsvedt and Fred Horihan, of the Assessor's office for Fillmore County, gave an annual review for the city of Preston. The city had 14 residential sales. Horrihan stated that there were no property value changes based on the sales. Hoffman asked if real estate values dropping. Blagsvedt said that values have leveled out.

• The Minnesota Sesquicentennial Banner, one of two, is to be at the Preston Library on April 9. Beth Anderson noted that the banner and an accompanying journal have been coming to a library in each county around the state. The journals and banners will eventually be displayed at the Minnesota Historical Society.

• Scott Wilson of the Preston Public Employees Association (PPEA) sent a letter to the city council to start negotiations for the next labor contract. Hoffman said that the contract expires in the end of 2008. The process is to start now before the city completes its budget. He asked the council to set ground rules.

Mayor Reicks expressed a preference for closed meeting discussions. City Attorney Dwight Luhmann agreed meetings can be closed to discuss strategy, but suggested that actual negotiations should be public. Councilman Heath Mensink suggested that a closed session committee consisting of two council members, a couple of union members, and someone from the utility board would be more productive and faster than passing letters back and forth. Reicks liked the idea, adding that the committee could make a recommendation to be brought before the full council, union and utility board for a decision. Sauer agreed the committee discussions could be more efficient.

The council approved the committee with Heath Mensink and David Harrison representing the city council. Now it is up to the PPEA and the utility board if they want the process to start with a committee of representatives.

• The council voted to request proposals from nonprofit organizations to conduct lawful gambling at the B & B Bowling Alley. The council hopes to have a larger portion of the proceeds going to local charities.

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