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Panel talks tobacco-free in rec areas

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Construction workers do sidewalk cement work at Hermann Heights Park Monday. A Reinvest in New Ulm (RENU) project funded with a local sales tax approved in 2016, this project includes parking lot renovations and the relocation of Monument Street further west on Center to improve driver sightlines. The project will create nearly 90 regular parking stalls, four handicapped stalls, and room for coach buses.

NEW ULM — The Park and Recreation Commission unanimously recommended approval a tobacco-free policy. This policy would prohibit tobacco use in or on all recreation areas in New Ulm.

In August, the commission established a sub-committee to study a potential tobacco-free policy to make future recommendations to the New Ulm City Council.

Commissioner and sub-committee member Carisa Buegler said several tobacco-free policies were studied. In the end, a template from the Public Health law firm was used to develop the policy.

The policy would affect all recreation facilities, parks, trails, open spaces and properties owned, leased, rented, contracted, used or controlled by the City of New Ulm for parks or recreational uses. The policy applies to all tobacco products, not just smoke.

Assistant City Attorney Tom Borgen explained this was a recommended policy. It did not make tobacco use at recreation facilities illegal or punished criminally. People not complying with the policy could be asked to leave by city staff.

RENU Update

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz gave an update on RENU projects. RENU stands for Reinvest in New Ulm, an effort to fund local projects with a voter-approved local sales tax. The Johnson Park improvements are 100% complete. A ribbon-cutting is planned before the 2021 baseball season, pending the status of COVID-19.

Hermann Heights Park is 50% complete. Improvements include a relocated entrance road at Monument Street, parking lots with infrastructure, sidewalks and replaced retaining walls.

The concrete curb, sidewalks and retaining walls are complete. The parking lot and entrance road are still under construction. Hermann Heights is closed throughout the construction.

Schmitz estimated the majority of the project would be complete by next month. An open house will be held next spring.

The Recreation Center is 10% is complete. Indoor improvements include a new aquatics center, playground, gymnastics center and expanded fitness center. Groundbreaking was July 29.

The public has limited use of the fieldhouse until April 2021. The racquetball courts are open. Strength and cardio equipment were also moved to the fieldhouse. Once the building closes in April, equipment will be moved to the Civic Center. Completion of the Rec Center is anticipated for autumn 2021.

Director’s Report

The Glockenspiel figurine replacement project is nearly complete, said Schmitz. He said a single figurine yet needs to be completed. The digital controls for the Glockenspiel have been installed and are working.

The German Park Amphitheater base structure is done. The trees have gone in, and the sod will be added within the next two weeks. Fundraising for the shade structure is ongoing.

The Riverside Park building Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access ramp and event deck is under construction and will be completed before winter.

Three Eagle Scout candidate projects are in development. These projects include Lincoln Park pickleball improvements, Art Wall cleanup and Minnecon Park improvements.

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