Council to consider new Cottonwood park request

NEW ULM — Residents have requested a new park be added to the upper Cottonwood Street/Dacotah West subdivision area.

The New Ulm City Council will consider at Tuesday’s meeting whether New Ulm staff should evaluate areas for a new Cottonwood Street neighborhood park.

Last week at the Park and Recreation Commission meeting, commissioners recommended moving forward with the process of establish a new park. Several area residents attended the meeting to express their support for the project.

There are seven undeveloped park areas in New Ulm. The Cottonwood/Dacotah West area is one of the areas in the city underserved by a neighborhood park. Currently, there are about 40 children in the neighborhood. The nearest park is Adams Park, which is wilderness a park. The nearest playground is located behind the former Target building. This playground cannot be accessed when the Cottonwood River floods the road.

The city’s comprehensive plan has a standard that no resident should have to travel more than four blocks from their home to get to a park.

Parks Commissioner and City Council member David Christian made the motion to recommend the city begin the process of establishing the park, but did caution it would take time to create the park because the city does not currently own land in the development.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the city does anticipate further development in the Dacotah West subdivision. There is $180,000 in a parkland account for the purpose of creating a new park. No money has been spent from this account in 13 years.

Roundabout

Recommendation

The Safety Commission voted to recommended a mini-roundabout be constructed on North Highland Avenue at Oak Street and at Center Street with the Oak Street location as a priority.

The construction of the new high school complex has increased the peak morning and evening traffic loading and additional pedestrian traffic at both intersections during school days. An engineering study was undertaken to determine if a multi-way stop control was warranted. The final report undertaken by consulting firm WSB concluded an all-way stop control was not warranted, but recommended a mini-roundabout. WSB’s analysis showed mini-roundabouts would reduce the minor roadway delay and improve safety without adding significant delay to the major approach.

The bare bones mini-roundabout is estimated to cost $150,000 per intersection.

Emerald Ash Borer Grant

An Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) grant application will come before the council. The grant is for $30,000 with an additional cash match of $6,000 for EAB infestation preemptive actions. The recent GreenCorps inventory counted 2,000 ash trees existing on boulevards and on city facility properties.

EAB can kill an ash tree in three to four years. Nearly complete ash loss in an area can occur in approximately 10 to 12 years. It is anticipated nearly all ash trees in New Ulm will be affected.

Noise Variance Requests

A public hearing was held to consider a noise variance for Green Mill & Best Western Plus to allow live bands to perform in the parking lot during Rocktoberfest-Oktoberfest on Oct. 5, Oct. 6, Oct. 12 and Oct. 13.

Dan Horner of PROformance Auto Start & Security is requesting a Public Hearing for a noise variance to allow amplified music during MidWest SPL and DB Drag Show on Sept. 8. This noise variance is for an event during the day and is the first of its kind requested from the city.

Misc.

A Lease Agreement will come before the council that allows Ron Bolduan to utilize the Riverside Park building for Minnesota River watershed cultural and natural history displays, learning center and programing. Bolduan has operated a nature learning center in the building for the past six years, in conjunction with the previous tenants.

The council will consider adjustments to their compensation and pay. The question of compensation was first discussed at the July 18 city council meeting. Since then a survey of 19 cities were conducted to compare New Ulm’s compensation rate. New Ulm was the 12th largest city in the survey and tied for third in highest pay of those surveyed.

A public hearing on petition for improvements to an alley located from 5th and 6th N. Street between Franklin and Washington. Approximately 64 percent of the total frontage property owners have signed the petition.

The city will considering authorizing an update to the School Resource Officer contract. Currently, the school district makes a $60,000 payment to the city. If approved this payment will increase to $70,000.

The council will enter a closed session discussion for the annual performance evaluation of City Manager Brian Gramentz.

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