By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

Approximately 35 persons attended the May 24 meeting of the Caledonia City Council, voicing support for keeping Sprague Woods for a second time in less than a month.

Councilwoman Amanda Ninneman read the official minutes of the council’s June 12, 2006 meeting, where all members voted in favor of accepting the gift of the property from Caledonia Green. 

That gift came with an attached restriction, however, that “the property must be kept in its natural state, except for installation/maintenance of walking trails and seating for the convenience of visitors...”

The minutes also show that the motion to accept the land “was made in accordance with the stipulated restrictions for use by member Fisch and seconded by member (Gary) Klug.” 

After further discussion, Ninneman made a motion to amend the deed of the parcel to include the above restriction, which had not been done in 2006. The 2021 council then voted down that proposal by a 3-2 margin. Councilman Bob Klug, councilman David Fitzpatrick, and Mayor DeWayne Schroeder all voted against the motion, which Ninneman and councilman Brad Rykhus supported.

“I hate to sign off on it because, 20 years down the road if something comes up, the City of Caledonia is landlocked on the highway,” the mayor said early on (before the vote). 

Klug also said that having the option to sell the parkland to a business was preferrable, stating that “I realize how important highway frontage is...”  

Fitzpatrick spoke little during discussions. Asked after the vote why he opposed the motion, he simply said, “It’s how I feel.” 

Ninneman had referred to the need to formally recognize the agreed-upon restriction by adding it to the deed as “correcting a mistake,” during an earlier meeting. 

Rykhus said that he voted in favor of the motion because, “It’s our job to represent the will of the people.”

The council also held some preliminary talks on the availability (or lack) of commercial property in the City of Caledonia later in the meeting. Members noted that there are areas near highways 44 and 76 which might be re-zoned as commercial if a willing buyer and seller want to see that happen. 

The possibility of annexing more land into the city limits was touched on briefly as well, with members being told by staff that the process is certainly possible if forwarded by petitioners, but very difficult to force when landowners are not in favor of it. There was no action taken, such as directing city staff to develop and share a list of willing landowners with prospective buyers.

On a related note, the council voted to make a request to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) that portions of N. Kingston and Old Highway Drive be designated as a business route, and signed as such. The action was recommended by the EDA board of commissioners. 

Project engineer Ray Theiler (WSB & Associates), briefed the council on final plans and specifications for well house #8, which will deliver water from a city well completed just a few months ago. 

A key component of the structure is that it will include a natural gas standby generator, so water delivery to the system can be maintained during power outages, he stated, adding that to the best of his knowledge, this is the first Caledonia well house to have that feature. 

Members approved the plans and authorized  advertisement of bids for the project, which is estimated to cost around $990,050. The bid opening is expected on June 23, followed by a June 28 contract award by the city council. Construction is expected to take place from the summer of 2021 through the spring of 2022.

City clerk/administrator Adam Swann reported the Caledonia Aquatic Center is still slated for a July 12 opening. Contractor Ricchio, Inc., presented a fifth payment application for the pool gutter replacement work now in progress. That item totaled $105,233.

Briefly

The consent agenda was passed without discussion, and included several items. One of those was the purchase of a Rhino Multi-Pro XA post driver for $2,670. Another was a land use permit for Lee and Elsie Babler to remove a lean-to, install a patio and concrete driveway, and add a portable stage at 214 E. Main Street. 

Council members also voted to donate $250 to National Night Out, an annual “community-police awareness-raising event” that is held the first Tuesday in August. 

The city was reportedly waiting for Caledonia Township to vote later in the week on an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Caledonia to share costs associated with fixing Green Acres Drive. Swann said the city had been in contact with Griffin Construction, asking the contractor to begin work on the project once the township signs off on the pact.

The Street Scapes/Caledonia Green committee has received a “Paint the Town” grant from SMIF to purchase 13 gallons of paint for a “pocket park” mural at 119 S. Kingston, Swann reported. 

City of Caledonia employee Carson Coffield has submitted a grant to SHIP to provide items for the same park. A bench for that site “has been deemed eligible for an amount of $997,” Swann added.

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