It’s been a busy and productive summer at the Columbus city hall. I am pleased to share a progress report as we move towards the autumn season.

First off, we are nearly ready to move back into city hall after much-needed upgrades to the council chambers. Because the council has been meeting in the Community/Senior Center, city staff has taken advantage of this time to clean, paint, install an air filtration system, and sound absorbing panels throughout the chambers in order to improve the acoustics of the room. We are waiting for the final sound and recording checks which we expect to happen this month. I invite everyone to come to a city council meeting to see what a great job our staff has accomplished.

Columbus is another step closer to having high-speed internet service available to several unserved and underserved areas of the city. At the Aug. 25 city council meeting the council voted unanimously to allocate $450,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act funding. This money will be going towards broadband expansion that would provide access to 198 homes. Midco will be contracted to provide the service. Discussions with CenturyLink/Lumen Technologies continue and the city is awaiting a proposal from them to service additional neighborhoods. More details on this expansion will be available on the city website (ci.columbus.mn.us). We will continue to seek other funding opportunities that will allow us to continue the trajectory we began last year to bring high speed internet access to all neighborhoods in Columbus. 

Earlier this spring, a multi-car accident at the intersection of Camp Three Road and Kettle River Blvd. knocked out internet service for one third of our residents in the southern portion of Columbus for nearly a month. Anoka County has joined with the city on a safety study at the corner of Camp Three Road and Kettle River Blvd. to explore options that would improve the sight lines at the intersection. After our study is complete in mid-November, County engineers will bring their findings to the council for review—along with input from residents—to decide on a cost-effective strategy to improve safety.

Council members have heard from many residents that they would appreciate increased communication with city hall. We have taken many steps in this direction. A newly-designed website is nearly complete that we expect will be easier for residents to navigate and for Staff to readily update. Residents can register to receive all types of email communications such as volunteer opportunities, the city newsletter, public notices, and minutes. Go to the city website home page and under “register for email communications,” click the link for the registration page to choose what type of communications you would like to receive. If you have problems registering for email communications or are not receiving the communications you requested, please contact city offices at 651-419-9014 and we will help you out.

A recently completed survey by the Columbus Park Board found that 79% of respondents rated our park as “very good” or “excellent.” The perimeter walking trail has been crack-filled and seal-coated to extend its longevity and increase safety for walkers and joggers alike. The park board also reported a fall planting in the park of additional deciduous and coniferous trees that will provide shade and aesthetic screening.

Jesse Preiner is the mayor of Columbus.

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