Rushford Council approves parklet on state highway – first in Minnesota

Jordan Gerard

Rushford residents may soon see a “parklet”—a portable park built on street parking spaces— outside Jessie Street Java.

Parklets can be used for enjoying a cup of coffee, eating a takeout meal from a restaurant, or just meeting friends to hang out. Rushford’s parklet will be the first of its kind on a state highway in Minnesota

In its most recent meeting, held August 12, the Rushford City Council approved a Limited Use Permit (LUP) with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), which allows the parklet to be disassembled before winter and put back together again in the spring.

City Administrator Tony Chladek said the process to get the LUP went pretty smoothly and the council is excited to get the parklet once fundraising efforts allow the construction of it to start. MnDOT was also excited to see the project put into motion, he added.

"It's going to be pretty attractive to the other ones we've seen installed in other areas," he said. "People will be able to have a cup of coffee, sit there and enjoy the space."

Amy Feller of Jessie Street Java said her builders are prepared to follow the proper building codes, and also want to make the space more of an art piece that will draw people into downtown and hang out longer in Rushford.

Airport FBO

The council passed a motion that allowed the city to take over the fixed base operations at the airport, as current Fixed Base Operator (FBO) Mike Thern is looking to retire from that position after 19 years.

The council agreed city staff should get together with Thern and discuss the duties at the airport. Thern would like to hand off the duties at the end of August.

The airport commission recommended allowing Thern to keep his two hangars through 2021, which would be a value of $5,040.

The motion was also contingent upon renegotiating the two hangars if another FBO was found during that entire time period.

New police officer

The council accepted the hire of Darin Daveau as a full-time police officer. Daveau replaces ougoing Officer Kaylee Inglett, who recently accepted a position in LaCrescent.

Daveau is fully licensed and currently works as a jailer for Houston County. He has also  served five years with the Houston Police Department.  "We're excited to be here and join the team," he said, accompanied by his wife and son.

The council and Police Chief Adam Eide are also excited to have Daveau join the department. Eide wrote in his recommendation Daveau brings "... many positive employee reviews and I believe he will make an excellent full-time employee and fine addition to our department."

Other news

The council passed a resolution that accepted the AcenTek Franchise Ordinance. This new ordinance will see a 2.5% franchise fee (half the legal limit of 5%) and a PEG (public, education, and government) fee of .75%.

There was no public feedback at the public hearing, so councilors passed the resolution without struggle.

The PEG fee will help accommodate funding needs, such as long-term capital costs and program improvements, which needs a budget of about $4,000, Chladek wrote in an agenda statement.

The type of customer who will receive these charges on their bill are those who had the "Expanded Package, Suite, 3 STB [Set-top boxes] and HD on all STB]." It would cost about $4.38 a month total for those customers (with $3.12 in franchise fees and $1.26 in PEG fees).

The council can consider increasing each of the fees in two years.  The City will now begin negotiations for a similar agreement with Mediacom, the other cable supplier within the City.

In other news, the council accepted donations totaling $960 from businesses for a bike safety class, in which every participant will receive a new bike helmet. The event was held on July 27th.  The Police Department is considering holding the event closer to the end of the school year next year to increase participation levels.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Rushford City Council will be held on Monday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.