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Amphitheater project on council agenda

NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council will decide whether to move forward with the German Park Amphitheater project at its meeting Tuesday.

In July, the council approved to begin the bidding process to determine the cost of the project. On Aug. 26, the city received three competitive bids for the project and included alternative bids. WEB Construction Inc. submitted the lowest base bid of $767,791.10. This bid was near the city’s original estimate.

Web Construction included alternative bids for a shade structure and south staircase. The shade structure was bid at $202,478.24. The south staircase was bid at $66,495. Combined with the alternates the cost is over $1 million.

Over $450,000 has been donated or pledged to this project and fundraising continues, but there is a 40 percent shortfall without the alternative bids.

The amphitheater project is an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility project. The current amphitheater is made of earthen terraces, which cannot be navigated by wheelchairs.

Postponing the project is expected to increase construction cost and the largest donors and pledgers have threatened to pull support if the project does not move forward.

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Three planning commission recommendations will come before the council. The first is a variance request from James Scheman to allow the construction of a private storage facility without a permitted use being present and all the building to be placed 20 feet from the front property line and five feet from the rear property line.

The planning commission previously recommended approval of the variances because of the unusual shape and size of the lots. The lots are located on an unimproved street and the lots are not sufficient for houses. In addition, other storage sheds without permitted uses are located in the general area.

The second recommendation is for an Interim Use Permit (IUP) for a float tank therapy business at 1010 Southridge Road. The planning commission recommended approval as the business was no likely to impact the surrounding properties and the nature of the business was to provide a quiet space for clients. The business will take place entirely within an existing residence and no addition was proposed.

The third recommendation was to deny a petition rezoning a property at 1703 S. Minnesota Street from General Industrial (I-2) to Multiple Family Residence (R-3). The commission recommended denial because the zoning does not address a need arising from the changing condition and no lawful basis was found for rezoning. Approval would set a precedent that could make it difficult to manage land use in the city.

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The council will consider approval of a grant application to the Department of Justice for a third Criminal Investigator. This proposed third investigator would focus on sex trafficking within New Ulm, Brown County, and nearby counties. The grant would provide funding for 2020 and 2021.

A public hearing will be held on the final assessment rolls for the German Street improvements from 3rd North St. to 7th North St. The assessment is payable over ten years with a 4.4. simple interest charge to the unpaid balance.

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