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Hermann Hillside panel comes to agreement on stone for project

NEW ULM — To bevel or not to bevel, that was one of the questions the Hermann Heights Hillside Stabilization committee debated Thursday.

The committee was formed last year to determine the best way to re-landscape the hillside leading up to the monument. The Kasota Stone limestone retaining wall currently in place in the park along Center Street has become a safety hazard for groundskeepers and park visitors.

During the committee’s June meeting it was decided to move forward with a modular block wall rather than a panel wall. Next question was what type of block to use.

New Ulm City Planner John Knisley presented the three main styles of block available, which include a rectangle straight-cut block, a beveled edge block, and rustic-face block. No significant cost difference was anticipated between the different style of blocks.

Knisley suggested the straight-cut as it was the most similar to the current look of the wall. Mayor Robert Beussman also favored the straight-cut, but others supported the bevel cut.

Les Schultz said the city council was leaning toward matching the Martin Luther College hillside, which used a beveled stone.

“Once we tear up that hill, people are going to expect something new and different,” Schultz said.

It was a narrow vote between the committee, but ultimately the beveled block had the majority.

The next issue was the color of the block. Once again, the committee was divided over whether to choose a block color matching MLC or keep the Kasota stone color of the original wall.

This vote was also close, but the committee favored matching the color of the current Kasota stone. There was some concern a lighter stone color could eventually become discolored over a period of time. The committee agreed to research if staining was a possibility before the next meeting.

Knisley gave a cost breakdown for the hillside landscaping plan the committee selected in June. The plan was to use a native wildflower seed mixture in between the retaining wall with evergreen shrubs at each wall section ends to prevent people from walking in this area. A small binding ground cover would be used to soften the edge of the blocks.

The ground cover for the planting was estimated at $2,000, the wildflowers are between $450 and $600, and the shrubs are $500. The total cost is around $3,100. This is significantly lower than originally estimated.

The maintenance for this option is expected to be low because the native wildflower should have minimal watering requirements. The wildflower option is also easy to remove if the city wants to go with a different option.

The next Hermann Hillside Committee meeting is planned to be the last. The committee will receive cost information on the approved wall and is expected to vote on a recommendation to the city council.

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