City OKs shade structure money for German Park
NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council authorized a change order for up to $300,000 for the German Park Amphitheater project, to include a shade structure system, Tuesday.
Recently the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate passed a bonding bill that would include funding for the shade structure. The bill is sent to Gov. Tim Walz, who is expected to sign it.
This bill includes up to $300,000 to fund the amphitheater shade structure. The first phase of the amphitheater project was completed this summer and was funded by $900,000 of donations. The shade structure for the project is phase two and, through this bonding, is funded.
Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the city has been seeking this funding for six years and recommended moving forward with the shade structure project.
The grant is for up to $300,000. If the cost for the final cost of the shade structure is under $300,000, the city will not receive the full grant amount. Schmitz said the last bid for the shade structure was closer to $200,000 than $300,000. He did not expect the cost to exceed the grant amount.
Councilor Les Schultz made the motion to authorize the change order with a second from Councilor Larry Mack. It was unanimously approved.
The council approved a Residential Rental Fire Inspection Agreement between the City of New Ulm and the City of Hanska.
The agreement will provide services of a qualified inspector to inspect rental properties located in the city of Hanska and determine if the properties comply with fire and other related building codes. With this agreement, the city of Hanska would pay New Ulm $65 per hour for the time spent traveling to Hanska and conducting the inspection, in addition to mileage reimbursement.
No additional staff is needed for this agreement. Fire Chief Paul Macho estimated it would take three days to complete the Hanska inspections. He was confident the New Ulm inspections could be completed in addition to this Hanska’s.
A Tobacco-Free Parks, Trails and Recreation Facilities Policy was adopted by the city to become effective Jan. 1, 2021. The Park and Recreation Commission unanimously recommended the policy in September.
This policy would provide consistency among community athletic facilities and groups, school property, youth sports and activity associations. Grant money is being sought to cover the cost of signage for the policy.
Councilor David Christian was a part of the subcommittee reviewing the policy. He said in some cities tobacco-free parks were written into the ordinance with fines issued for violations. Christian admitted he was a smoker, but was still in support of the policy. Christian made the motion to approve it, and it was unanimously adopted.
Property owners on Spring Street brought concerns to a public hearing on final assessments for the 2019 Utility, Street and Alley Improvements Program.
A series of street project assessments were discussed during the hearing with the focus on Spring Street improvements. Dan Mages questioned why the final cost of the assessments on Spring Street was significantly higher than the estimate. Mages said the assessment was originally $180 per foot, but the final assessment was now closer to $265 per foot.
City Engineer Joe Stadheim said construction costs increased for all projects due to material costs. The final costs were 20% over the estimate.
Spring Street property owner Justin Hendrickson raised concerns that property owners on this street were being assessed 100% the cost of this repair compared to other streets in the city that were assessed only 18% of the cost. Hendrickson said it was a busy street and wanted to know why property owners had 100% of the burden.
Stadheim explained the 100% assessment for property owners was due to a development agreement with Prairie Land First Addition. This agreement was put in place in 2012.
City Attorney Roger Hippert said the 100% assessment to property owners was the standard method New Ulm used for creating new developments. This agreement with Prairie Land First Addition would have been recorded as a matter of public record and when a developer sells the property, details of this assessment should be in the deed for the property.
“This is something that has been uniform for all new developments for decades,” Hippert said.
Hendrickson said if the property owners are responsible for 100% of the cost, they should get a say whether the improvements are installed. He questioned if the pavement and sidewalks needed to go to the refuse center.
Stadheim told the council there was a pre-project public meeting to give property owners a chance to provide input on the improvements.
Council President Charlie Schmitz said it was out of the council’s hands because it was in the development agreement and it was not right for the city to change it.
Councilor Les Schultz agreed the city’s hands were tied on this decision, but acknowledged past issues with assessments. The council has discussed issues with residents and large business on the same street being assessed the same amount, even though truck traffic from the businesses was causing more damage. There are also questions about whether property owners are aware of how much assessments they could face on a property. Schultz made a motion to adopt the final assessments for the street improvements but added to the motion that the council would further discuss assessment policy at a work session.
Mack seconded the motion. He said he was uncertain how these parcels were sold by the developers and whether the fine print on the assessments was advertised.
The council approved the final assessment rolls payable over 10 years along with a 3.4% simple interest charged on the unpaid balance. The streets included in the assessment were:
• Front Street from 7th South Street to 13th South Street, the reconstruction of the existing water main, sanitary sewer main, sewer and water end services, and reconstruction of the existing roadway section, including excavation and replacement of subgrade, aggregate base, bituminous paving, pavement sub drains, storm sewer modification and inlet structure reconstruction, concrete curb and gutter, pedestrian sidewalk ramps, concrete sidewalk infill, street lighting and selective replacement of concrete driveway pavement and sidewalk.
• Second South Street from Broadway to Washington Street, the reconstruction of the existing water main, sanitary sewer main, sewer and water end services, and reconstruction of the existing roadway section including excavation and replacement of subgrade, aggregate base, bituminous paving, concrete curb and gutter, concrete driveway pavement, pedestrian sidewalk ramps, and selective replacement of concrete sidewalk.
• Spring Street from 20th North Street to 21st North Street in the Prairie Land First Addition, the grading, aggregate base, bituminous base, concrete curb and gutter, concrete sidewalk, concrete driveway pavement, bituminous surfacing, boulevard trees, boulevard restoration and street lighting.
• Spring Street from 19th North Street to 20th North Street, the grading, aggregate base, concrete curb and gutter, bituminous surfacing, concrete sidewalk, concrete driveway pavement, boulevard restoration and street lighting.
• Alley, Block 136 North of Center Street, the grading, aggregate base, bituminous surfacing, 7-inch concrete alley approach pavement, storm sewer, miscellaneous removals and restoration necessary to construct a residential alley pavement section (improvement petitioned).
• National Guard Armory and FMS, storm sewer extension from North Highland Avenue to the MNARNG site.
• Schell’s Road, reconstruction/stabilization of a portion of Schell’s Road.
• Concrete sidewalk and ADA improvements, to complement the improvements scheduled within the 2019 Surface Reconstruction Project by reconstructing pedestrian sidewalk ramps to meet current ADA requirements.