City tables Hermann Heights project decision

NEW ULM — The City Council tabled the decision on the Hermann Heights Park Hillside Stabilization Project Tuesday.

Last month Park and Recreation informed the city council the Kasota-Stone limestone retaining wall in Hermann Heights Park was a safety hazard for groundskeepers and park visitors. Parts of the wall is falling apart, and additional maintenance is needed.

Parks Director Tom Schmitz proposed eliminating the retaining wall and sloping the area similarly to the 5th North Street hillside by the Diocese of New Ulm. But the council requested an alternative option with quotes.

Schmitz presented two options for the project. The first would create a gradual and mow-able slope as he originally proposed. The second would re-landscape the slope to resemble the Martin Luther College hillside.

The first option is estimated at $260,000. The second option is estimated at $585,000.

Councilor Les Schultz was against approving either option.

“I coughed at the $260,000 and I think I threw up at the $585,000,” he said. “I think there has got to be another solution.”

Schultz requested other options to consider for this project. He expressed safety concerns with the hill’s slope leading to kids sliding down it in winter and right into Center Street.

Schmitz said there were likely an infinite number of designs possible, but he felt mowing an all-grass hill would be the lowest-cost option from a maintenance perspective and was more inviting than a wall. Schmitz was reluctant to compare the Hermann Heights hillside to the Martin Luther College hillside. He said one is for a private entity and the other is a public space.

City Engineer Steve Koehler said the city did design the MLC hillside and had the blueprints available, but the vertical heights and soil conditions are different.

Councilor David Christian reviewed the $585,000 option and believes the costs could be cut down. It can be designed in phases rather landscaping everything at a time.

Koehler said there are probably different options if the council does not want to slope the entire hill, but they would likely be more expensive than $260,000.

The council chose to table the design until additional options could be reviewed.

State Street

Apartment Parking

The Community Housing Development Corporation requested a portion of the on-street parking near The State Street Apartments be designated residential parking. It asked that the east side of Washington Street from Center to 1st North Street and the side of 1st North Street from Washington Street to State Street be designated resident parking. In all this would give the apartments nine additional parking stalls.

The city code requires 1.5 parking spaces for each dwelling unit. For this project 83 parking spaces are required. The current site plan allows 47 stalls on the existing parking lot and an additional 27 stalls on the new proposed surfaced lot on the northeast corner of the block for a total of 74 on-site housing parking stalls. The additional nine stalls would bring the total number of stalls up to code.

The council unanimously approved the request.

Other news

In other news the council approved multiple requests previously recommended by the Planning Commission. First, a variance request from Bill and Joanne Brennan was approved. The Brennans’ home is a split level, and the current entrance does not allow a person using a walker or wheelchair to close the door when ascending. To fix the problem they requested a variance to construct a covered porch into their front yard setback.

Councilor Larry Mack said the Planning Commission approved it, as it made the property more accessible and it was only a variance of 18 inches and only applied to the cover.

The council unanimously approved the variance.

DLC Manufacturing and Fabrication was granted a permit to allow the location of a metal fabrication business on property zoned as a Planned Industrial District at 24 Somsen St. The city previously issued a permit in April to DLC for the same land use at a property located at 20 Somsen St. After inspecting the property the building contractors determined the 20 Somsen location was not suitable for the new building. DLC requested the same permit for the adjoining property, which is more suitable. The council approved the change.

New Ulm Public Schools were permitted to install an irrigation well on high-school land. According to documents submitted to the Planning Commission, the purpose of the well is to irrigate existing athletic fields and future practice fileds. Currently four fields for a combined area of 4.98 acres are irrigated and served by the city water system. The school plans to serve additional fields for a total area of 14.42 acres.

The new well would serve all 14.42 acres, while the city water system would continue to supply the school drinking water.

The Planning Commission recommended approving the permit on condition the existing piping is capped and locked to ensure there will not be a reconnection to the city system without the knowledge of the Public Utilities.

The council unanimously granted approval for the irrigation well.