City council moves ahead on Johnson Park

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Mayor Bob Beussman is sworn in by City Attorney Roger Hippert Tuesday night in New Ulm.

NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council approved Johnson Park RENU design concepts and ordered construction documents.

The schedule for the Reinvest in New Ulm (RENU) project is to have design, bid and award contracts this winter for Johnson Park. Construction is planned to begin in early June and conclude by the end of 2019.

Johnson Park was scheduled as the first RENU project as the city wants the baseball park upgraded before the 2020 State Amateur Baseball Tournament here.

Later in the meeting, the council authorized the use of RENU funds to acquire engineering and drafting services and soil borings to design a first base/right field observation deck at Johnson Park.

The observation deck was not part of the original design Request for Proposal (RFP) and would be an additional cost estimated at $5,800. The soil boring is estimated at $2,000. This addition is related to the 2020 tournament. The observation deck would help accommodate a greater number of visitors.

City Manager Chris Dalton said if the cost for the observation deck comes back too high, it will return to the council for approval. Since the deck will be bid as an add-on, the council can decide to approve or cut it from RENU after the final costs are known.

City Attorney Roger Hippert confirmed this deck was within the scope of the Johnson Park improvements.

A similar observation deck was requested by the New Ulm Baseball Association (NUBA) in Mueller Park in advance of the 2020 state tournament, but the council chose to table the decision.

Dalton said this observation deck served the same purpose, but did not fall in the scope of RENU and the cost would need to be covered by the city.

A preliminary cost estimate for this deck is $25,000 to $40,000. This deck was not included in the 2019 budget. At this time the quest was only to obtain quotes for the design and engineering.

Councilor David Christian noted the observation deck was not ADA compliant. As a former building official, he said new construction needs to be ADA compliant.

Hippert agreed this could be a legal issue and wanted to hear the opinion of the city’s current building official.

NUBA President Bob Skillings spoke on the need for the deck. He believes it would add character to the park. He indicated NUBA would be willing to help pay for the deck by sharing revenue from the 2020 tournament.

The council decided to table the Mueller Park observation deck decision until next week’s council meeting to determine the ADA compliance issue and potential funding sources.

Hermann Landmark designation

The council authorized nominating Hermann Monument as a National Historic Landmark. National Historic Landmark designation provides additional recognition and status, along with greater opportunities for grant funding. The restoration of Hermann Monument will likely require funding other than city funds.

Historian Daniel Hoisington will lead the nomination process for a fee of $4,000. The Hermann Monument Society and Heritage Preservation Commission have offered $2,000 toward this nomination.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the paperwork on this application should be completed in six months, but it could be a year or two before the federal government responds.

Boiler replacement

The Recreation Center is in need of a boiler replacement. The recreation center’s two original boilers are approximately 40 years old and are beyond the manufacturer’s estimated life spans. The new boiler system is expected to be more efficient and will be used to heat the new RENU projects at the Recreation Center.

City staff recommended accepting the low bid for the boiler replacement of $58,470 from ISG.

The council unanimously approved the awarding the bid.

Plunge

The council unanimously approved a request from Lamplighter Bar & Grill to conduct the First Annual New Ulm Arctic Plunge on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The event is a fundraiser for the New Ulm Fire Department, New Ulm Food Shelf and animal shelter.

The request includes blocking off North Minnesota Street from the Wells Fargo drive-thru to 2nd North Street from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to allow for VIP tents and bleachers.

Herb Knutson, part owner of the Lamplighter, said similar events hosted elsewhere raised $29,000 for the community. The money raised in the community will stay in the community.

Truck traffic

restricted on

North Washington

The council passed a resolution establishing no truck traffic on Washington between 16th and 17th North Street. In December, the Safety Commission recommend no truck traffic on this segment of Washington Street.

This road abuts the west side of the storage building located at 1615 N. State St. The building is utilized by the local 3M plant to store and shuttle materials to the plant. Residents indicated the building’s rear loading docks could be accessed by trucks without utilizing Washington Street.

Dave Stadick, a resident of this area, spoke to the council on this issue. Stadick is an employee of 3M and has spoken with the company regarding operations at the storage facility. He said when the company applied for a conditional use permit (CUP), the local residents did not speak out unaware of how much the neighborhood would be affected. In reality in industrial operation has opened up next to residential properties.

“It has not proved to be low-impact from our perspective,” Stadick said.

Stadick said 3M has been willing to make some changes, by reducing hours of operations at this facility but there is still a CUP in place and nothing that requires the company or any new company occupying the building to limit the operation. On occasion trucks still come to the warehouse if extra product is needed.

Councilor Lisa Fischer questioned what the council could do if a CUP had unintended consequences. Even when 3M’s lease expires, the CUP granted for the property is still in place.

Hippert said the CUP will last beyond the lease. Hippert suggested that if no truck traffic were established on this section of Washington Street, it could help some of the problem by reducing truck traffic.

Fischer said it was a good first step and made the motion to establish the no truck traffic policy for Washington Street between 16th and 17th North.

Performance

Measurement Survey to be expanded

The city tabled the approval of the annual Performance Measurement Survey in 2019. For the past six years the city has conducted the survey. New Ulm has received reimbursement from the state in the amount of $1,896 for the expense of conducting the survey. In past years, the city has sent 75 copies of the survey to each ward for a total of 300 surveys submitted. Last year 47 percent of the surveys were returned.

This year Councilor Les Schultz suggested a larger number of surveys be mailed out to residents to get a better indication of public opinion. Schultz suggested a total of 1,000 surveys be sent out, or 250 per ward. He also asked if additional questions could be added to the survey.

The council was willing to increase the number of people surveyed if it was within the budget. Councilor Charlie Schmitz suggested asking the department head if they had any questions to add to the survey.

The council agreed to make changes to the annual survey prior to approval. The city has until May to make the necessary changes. The councilors indicated they would increase the number of surveys mailed out to 500 total or 125 in each ward.

Other news

In response to a growing number of requests from wireless providers and wireless infrastructure companies to construct small cell wireless facilities in public rights-of-way, the city agreed to proceed with an aesthetic standard policy.

Approval of this policy would allow the city to establish aesthetic standards and comply with FCC requirements.

The council unanimously approved the aesthetic standard policy.

The council approved a Taxi License for David Chute, for Dave’s Transportation. Chute previously worked for Kato Cab and wished to continue operating in New Ulm. Chute said he does not make a lot of money operating in New Ulm, but he enjoys driving people in the area. Chute said he will mostly work on weekends and during the festival events.

The council recently changed city ordinance to lift the limit on number of taxi licenses allowed in the city.

The council authorized moving forward with the city manager recruitment process, which includes a position profile, job description and timeline.

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