NEW ULM - The New Ulm Park and Recreation Commission formally requested Monday that the Public Utilities Commission not build a water tower at the Hermann Heights site.
An aging water tower currently exists at Hermann Heights, The PUC is seeking to replace it with a new one that will meet all the water needs on the hilltop. The master plans for the Hermann Heights site seeks to build a new parking lot and road at the current tower's location when the park is expanded.
The PUC proposed building the new tower at Nehls Park, but the idea has generated sizable outcry by residents of that area. Rebuilding on the existing Hermann Heights location was the PUC's fall-back location if it can't build at Nehls Park.
Park and Recreation Department Director Tom Schmitz said that building the tower at Hermann Heights would significantly impact the master plan. He also noted that the City of New Ulm may not be allowed to build a new tower on the site. He noted that the Hermann Monument had been designated a national historic landmark, which means the Minnesota Historical Society controls changes to the site. He said that the Society would need to give approval for construction.
The motion only addressed the Commission's declaration that it would not want the new tower built at Hermann Heights. The suggestion will go before the New Ulm City Council during its Aug. 21 meeting. There will also be a the presentation of a petition by area residents against building in Nehls Park.
In other business, the Commission formally declared its interest in building a dog park. A location has not yet been determined, but the issue will be presented to the Council on Aug. 21 for approval or denial.
The Park and Recreation Department suggested locating the dog park on the city land located north of 22nd North Street and east of North Broadway Street.
Dog park supporters in the audience indicated they found the site lacking, particularly due to its remote location and lack of amenities like lights.
The location most supported by the dog park enthusiasts was Steinhauser Park, which is next to the parking lot of the New Ulm Recreation Center at Garden Street and Center Street. The supporters argued the location was the best, despite being significantly smaller, because they could use the parking, lights and water from the Center at no cost.
The Commission's initial proposal for the design of the park will be two fenced areas: one for small dogs and one for large dogs. The park will be self-policed by users. The cost of the installing fence will be raised by the dog park enthusiasts.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)