RENU bonds to be sold

NEW ULM — The Park and Recreation Commissioned recommended the first package of Reinvest in New Ulm (RENU) bond sales and a reimbursement resolution.

The total annual city bonding is less than $10 million. This year the city plans to bond just under $3 million for streets and road projects. This leaves up to $7 million available for local options sales tax projects. Once the bonds are sold, there is an 18-month deadline to spend the bonds.

Johnson Park is scheduled to be among the first phases of the RENU projects, in order to have the grandstands improvements completed in time for the 2020 Amateur Baseball Tournament.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said of the seven RENU projects, five are ready to go now. No official agreement has been reached with the school district or the gymnastic groups, meaning the dome and gymnasium projects will likely be in a later phase of RENU.

Commission Chair Toby Freier recommended focusing on the Recreation Center campus after Johnson Park because there is less uncertainty with it.

The city normally conducts its annual bond sale in June or July.


recommends dog park expansion

The commission made a recommendation to City Council to expand the existing dog park in South German Park.

In January, the City Council ordered the leash law be extended to all public property and expressed an interest in designating up to three off-leash dog areas. During the February Park and Recreation Commission meeting, the commissioners reviewed possible sites for new off-leash dog parks, but were reluctant to designate any additional parks. The decision was tabled to give extra time for review.

After a month no additional options came forward and the public consensus was to keep all the city parks on-leash parks.

Commissioner and city council member David Christian said he received calls from people who approved of the new leash law and wanted the parks maintained for people.

The commissioners supported expanding the existing dog park because it was a controlled atmosphere.

Commissioner Terrance Baumgart made the motion to recommend support for the park expansion.

At this time the development of the dog park has been done through donations from users. The city could provide additional funding to the park, but no official recommendation was made in regards to funding sources.

In other news:

A recommendation to develop a plan to offer only healthy options in all vending machines within the Park and Recreation system was approved.

Currently soda vending machines are available at the Recreation Center. The plan is to replace these vending machines with healthier options.

Cindy Winters with the Heart of New Ulm spoke to the commission and said a recent survey indicated citizens were attempting to drink less sugar-sweetened beverages. She felt the removal of these machines would have minimal push-back from the community.

The new vending machines would have flavored water, juices and diet soda.

Freier favored the change. He said the city does a lot to promote a focus on healthy living and the selling of surgery beverages at recreation facilities contradicted those goals.

The recommendation was approved with Commissioner Melanie Griebel voting against.

A Give and Grow donation program was recommended by the commission. The program is similar to Mankato’s “Wish Book” donor program.

All projects on the Give and Grow list would need prior to approval from the Park and Recreation Commission.

The New Ulm Soccer Association requested and received authorization from the commission to re-designate the soccer field by the Art Wall.

The field was considered a dormant field until recently. Schmitz said the field went dormant because there was no need for a soccer field, but as that has now changed, he recommended re-designating it.