By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
Spring Grove residents can rejoice at improved visibility on Main Street, but at the cost of four parking spots on the north side of the street.
After positive reaction to the Spring Grove Council’s February decision to temporarily remove the first parking spot by the Trinity Center, the council discussed improving visibility elsewhere in town at its regular meeting on March 16.
The next problem area was the single spot by Kwik Trip and the first spot by Kwik Trip’s sign (on the block shared with Merchants Bank). Since the store is often busy in the mornings and evenings, it makes for just about too many close calls.
Then, near the fire department is a designated parking spot, – located in front of mailboxes – was the next to go. Council member and fire chief Trent Turner said it would be better to eliminate that spot entirely, instead of moving the mailboxes.
When the Main Street project was designed in 2013, the goal was to create as many parking spaces as possible in the downtown area, Mayor Scott Solberg explained.
The council approved eliminating the first spot by the Trinity Center, the last spot near the fire department (in front of the mailboxes), the single spot by Kwik Trip and finally, the spot just below Kwik Trip’s sign.
Selling landlocked parcel
The council voted to sell two small parcels of land near Nine Oaks Drive that are landlocked. City Clerk-Administrator Julie Amundson said no one knows how the city ended up with those two parcels of land. The first parcel is almost a quarter acre large and the second is 2.580 acres. Gaining access to the land could be an issue, as land owners surround it on all sides.
The council did have an offer made on the parcels, but in order to accept any offer, they must go through the legal process of selling publicly-owned land, including advertising, sealed bid and holding a public hearing. The council has the right to refuse any and all offers. The vote was contingent upon Amundson checking the terms over with city attorney, Greg Schieber. The buyer would pay any incurred fees, closing costs and the recording fee.
If you can believe it, the Spring Grove Swim Center has been open for 15 years already, and it’s time for about $60,000 in repairs. That was the budgeted amount, but final costs won’t be available until the work is completed. The council approved Thatcher Pools and Spas from Rochester for the repairs.
The city put repairs off last year, but kept the money in the budget, as Public Works employee Jon Sylling cited repairs were needed.
On the topic of the pool, the council clarified rates for Friday and Sunday swim. If patrons have a pass, they will not need to pay the $2 fee for either day.
Pool employees were hired as follows: Front desk workers Amelia Solum, Ella Wennes, Hailey Borreson and Paige Jahnke; Concessions workers Addyson McHugh, Ben Udstuen, Caleb Eiken, Carson Anderson, Emerson Ingvalson, Isaac Nerstad, Joelle Halverson, Kendall VanMinsel, Lillian Hundorf, Sydney Holland and Zander Thorson; Lifeguards Haley Ellingson, Jaxon Strinmoen, Jonah Udstuen, Julia Halverson, Kylie Reynolds, Reid Bjerke, Tysen Grinde and Zach Folstad; Water safety instructors/lifeguards Brianna Johnson, Dane Edgington, Harlee Gavin, Kailee Olerud, Kelsey Bratland, Maggie Lile, Mckenzie Fisch, Kaitlyn Gross, Mariah Edgington, Alyssa Johnson and Ava Olerud.
The council approved Community Economic and Development Associates (CEDA) and EDA director Courtney Swanson to apply for anAARP grantthat could fund fixing up the alleyway behind Main Street. Other fund sources include a Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) Paint the Town grant, Southeast Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) and the EDA Fix Up Fund.
Initial plans include improving the space in between the Ye Olde Opera House building and Kelly Meyer’s realty office. It would provide a pedestrian connection between the alley and Main Street, therefore encouraging more alley parking, provide an outdoor gathering space for local businesses, and bring positive attention to town.
Design ideas include an iron archway, market lights, flower pots, benches and a community mural perhaps featuring rosmaling. The council likened to the idea, as that project has been a city goal in the past. If awarded grant funds, improvements should happen in late summer 2021.
The city is preparing for Syttende Mai on May 14-16, as the council approved a temporary liquor license pending paperwork, closure of Maple Drive for a majority of Saturday, May 15 and the “Running with My Gnomies” race route. Musikk Fest will happen June 26.
The council approved the location of the Simple Living Farmers Market, which will open May 12 and close Oct. 13. The market is likely to be open again on Wednesdays, from 4 to 7 p.m., with the exception of September and October where the hours will be 4 to 6 p.m.
It was approved with the contingency the group work in conjunction with Music in the Park, not overlap food vendors and follow any social distancing guidelines in place at that time.
Fest building walking will end April 2. Since warmer weather is on the way, the number of walkers has been dwindling down, Amundson said.
The council approved a utilities director position starting in June in preparation for current Public Works Director Paul Morken’s retirement at the end of 2021. The city can either hire from within the department or hire someone outside the department. This position is budgeted.
The council approved a resolution that undoes the waiving of platting a subdivision on Maple Dr., previously approved in May 2020. The original plan by Josh Myhre did not have a platting procedure and it was a non-conforming subdivision to begin with, according to Amundson.
The land was then sold to Amundson and her husband. Once the legal description was sorted out, the land went back to just one plat, not five. There were also issues with the storm sewer recordings for the city, and drainage issues, she cited.
The council appointed Solberg as the council liaison for the new Spring Grove 2030 EDA subcommittee. This new group will focus on future development concerning new business spaces, lodging, performing arts, community meetings and so on. Swanson said it’s still early, but so far the group has participation from the school, EDA, council, local churches, nonprofit groups, businesses, chamber of commerce and more.
The council went into closed session to discuss staffing considerations for the police department. When they came back to open meeting, the council approved Police Chief Paul Folz to search for a standby officer. The council also approved keeping the staffing level at three full-time officers.
The next meeting will be April 20, at 6 p.m. at the Fest Building, in person or via Zoom. Contact City Hall at 507-498-5221 for Zoom information.