In 1994, when the Stearns Avenue project was started, residents living on Stearns Avenue between First Street and Main Street petitioned not to have sidewalks installed as part of the improvement project. That same group of residents appeared before the council Wednesday night, July 9, to restate their position on not wanting a sidewalk.
The council had discussed the possibility of completing the sidewalk to the end of the block on Stearns Avenue as part of the 1998 street improvement project. At present, the sidewalk extends from Mill Street to the corner of the Keith Ainsley property on Stearns Avenue.
ďWe, as property owners, are proud of our property and donít need more cement,Ē Ramona Olsen said. ďBy installing sidewalks you would eliminate our front yards. Iíd hate to be blocked in by sidewalks.Ē
Councilperson Dennis Zimmerman reminded the residents the sidewalks would be placed on city right-of-way, not private property.
Many residents in attendance asked how many trees would be lost due to the project.
Mayor Jeff Thompson said there is no way of knowing the number of trees to be affected until the project is assigned to the city engineer. At that time, the engineer would survey the areas involved in the project to see where the property lines are located. Zimmerman added nothing is definite about the project until all the fact gathering has been completed. The council will be reviewing the materials provided by the community at the public hearing.
Olsen felt the council was looking at the project from a business aspect and not residential. Councilman Dave Pschong reminded her all the councilmen are residents of the city and many have been affected by previous projects.
Thompson added the council tries to look at all projects objectively and seeks input from the entire city not just select blocks. ďWe need to weigh the benefits for the betterment of the overall community,Ē he stressed.
Howard Caldwell, Paynesville Area School District Superintendent, expressed concern with potential sidewalks planned for the south and east side of the school property. ďBy adding sidewalks, that will affect our school budget as we have a limited custodial staff. The added winter maintenance costs would require the district to add another custodian to the staff. The district hasnít had any requests for additional sidewalks and I donít feel the need is critical at this time,Ē he told the council.
After further input from residents, the council moved on to other business. City engineer Pete Carlson, recommended the council reject the bids for the new west end lift station.
Carlson felt the city could investigate the possibility of doing as much work themselves and serve as the contractor and subcontract out the tasks they couldnít do. Other options included rebidding the project or attaching the project to the 1998 street improvement project.
Councilman Zimmerman agreed the city needed to look at ways to reduce the cost of the project. The council authorized Ron Mergen, public works director, to get quotes on various aspects of the project and see if the city could do the project.
ēThe council heard a proposal from Bob Stoneburner on reploting the former Harold Herzberg property. He asked about the possibility of annexing 49 acres which abuts the east side of the golf course into the city. He plans on developing 28 lots each with about 130-foot frontage area. The council suggested Stoneburner bring his proposal to the next planning commission meeting.
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