Council OKs bid for Hermann Park playground surface

NEW ULM – The City is one step closer to opening its first inclusive playground.

The Council approved Tuesday a bid of $103,700 from Flagship Recreation for the poured-in-place playground surfacing project at Hermann Heights Park. The surfacing will serve a rubber fall zone. Upon completion the rubber surfacing will allow for easier maneuvering of wheelchairs for mobility-impaired children.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the bid came in close to the engineering estimate. Although Flagship Recreation was the only vendor to submit a bid, Schmitz said he was confident the company could provide a quality product.

The project has received multiple donations from the community including $50,000 from New Ulm Medical Center Foundation. MR Paving and Excavating will donate aggregate base material and installation for additional cost savings.

The approximate cost of the project is $200,000.

The rubber surfacing will have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. The poured-in-place surface will be lower in maintenance costs compared to wood chips.

The old playground equipment at Hermann Heights has been removed and will be stored for later repurposing. The park department is still determining where to relocate the equipment. New Ulm has multiple undeveloped parks that could serve as a new home for the equipment.

MSAS projects

The Council awarded the contract for the 2016 MSAS Improvement Projects to MR Paving & Excavating for $719,232, which was under the engineer’s estimate. The projects include improvements to German Street and 17th South Street.

RENU Committee to Continue with 12 Members

No replacement was named to the Reinvest New Ulm Committee (RENU) following the departure of Laura Hage who resigned in March, dropping the number of members to 12. The RENU committee initially contained 13 members to prevent a tie in voting

Council discussion indicated keeping the committee at 13 was unnecessary. Councilor Ruth Ann Webster said the RENU committee has operated as full committee and felt adding a new member at this stage would not be productive.

Councilor Les Schultz agreed saying the RENU committee has been working hard and a new person without the background of the other members would provide little benefit. Schultz added that the chances of a 6-6 split on voting were unlikely.

Councilor Larry Mack, who serves on the RENU committee as the Council’s representative, said a new member would need to play catch-up.

City Manager Brian Gramentz added that even with 13 members there is no promise all members will be present for every meeting – meaning the chance of tie vote was still possible even with a replacement.

The Council voted unanimously to leave Hage’s seat vacant.