Construction moves Ostrander City Council

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Ostrander's main street, concurrent with County State Aid Highway 1, is soon to be ready for some traffic, though concrete is yet to be poured on the north end of town. City councilors met at Trinity Lutheran Church for the June council meeting due to construction.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Construction on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1 in Ostrander meant that relocating the June Ostrander City Council meeting to Trinity Lutheran Church last Tuesday, June 4, was the most sensible option, instead of councilors and members of the public trying to navigate the unfinished street in front of the Ostrander Community Center. 

Brian Malm, of Bolton & Menk, updated the council on street construction progress, as he noted that the first phase of paving is underway past the community center and that parking lanes were completed.  He reported that if weather cooperated, County Road 1 would be open this past Friday, and that crews would progress down County 1 and then begin work on County Road 3, which is on the town’s northeast side. 

Councilor Stephanie Start commented that she had heard of drivers going through the ditches to get around on Ostrander’s south end, and that she felt that road needed better markings and blockades to prevent accidents.  Start added that the intersection of Minnesota Street and South Street is posing traffic problems and that the same issue needs attention there. 

City clerk Wendy Brincks cited that Wapasha Construction has requested an extension on their contract to the end of June due to weather setbacks.  Councilor D.J. Start made a motion to allow the extension, and Councilor Dan Hellerud seconded, with the council agreeing. 

Malm then presented a bill from A-1 for $115,790.83, and councilors Stephanie Start and Vernon Thompson made the motions for payment, followed by the council’s vote in favor.  Malm presented the second-phase right-of-way map, asking the council to peruse it for future reference.          

Malm also outlined planned changes to the community center and city hall to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, including an entrance at the back of the community center that is no longer in use that could be closed off to make way for a ramp. 

D.J. Start signaled his approval of blocking the door to build a ramp, and Hellerud seconded, after which the councilors chose to accept. 

The city also paid Bolton & Menk for its work done on the first phase of construction – at a cost of $1,185 – and for its second phase of construction, totaling $49,300.  

In other matters, city attorney Jennifer Gumbel explained to the council that the former bank building has been sold and that the new owner would like to transform it into a dwelling.  The property is currently zoned as commercial, meaning that a residence would not be allowed. 

Gumbel stated that she had spoken with the Zoning Board and that zoning could possibly be changed to allow residential use within commercial areas.  Hellerud began with the first motion, D.J. Start seconded, and the rest of the council was in favor. 

The city’s former police squad car had been retired upon the retirement of Ostrander Police Chief Tom Mosher approximately two years ago, and the city has sought someone to strip the equipment and decals to prepare it for sale.  Two bids were received, and Mark Anderson won the bid. 

Additionally, a closed meeting has been set for June 12 at 7 p.m. to discuss what will become of the car.   

New business encompassed a review of the nuisance complaint policy – at the May meeting, residents attended and expressed their view that the policy was being unfairly and unevenly administered – but councilors felt that the policy has been handled well and that no changes are necessary. 

One property will be mowed by the city, with a letter being sent to the owner to ask them to finish cleaning up. 

Brincks then informed the council that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is requiring every city in Fillmore County to have a floodplain ordinance and that efforts have begun to handle the matter. 

Conversation turned toward Election Day, with the special council election being held Nov. 5 and the Nov. 5 council meeting moved to Nov. 12.    

Also, Fire Chief Dustin Johnson shared that Lucy Drinkall resigned from the First Responders and that Caleb Hall will attend the July Fire Department meeting for the City Council to vote on a new training officer. 

In city maintenance news, Jeff Tart spoke about complaints about the city’s emergency siren – that it is not functional – but Brincks related that it does work, but only if a person goes out to operate it manually.  However, the noon whistle is broken, according to Brincks.