Preston City Council receives survey of state veterans home site

By : 
Melissa Vander Plas
News Leader

The Preston City Council reviewed the legal descriptions and the survey map for the state veterans home site during its meeting on Monday, March 4. The city needs to purchase the property and, in turn, sell it to the state by a March 20 deadline so the state can apply for federal dollars to support the veterans home construction in Preston.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman explained he had received the survey back from the state last week and, in addition to 14.43 acres, the state had also included 2.2 acres for easements for grading, slope and construction.

Because the current property owners, Bob and Kelly Doherty, are not yet aware of the additional property request, the council could not take action on the sale of the site during Monday’s meeting.

“All of this will have to move pretty quickly as the state wants to have it all wrapped up by March 20 to get federal application in,” Hoffman said. “The state has taken its time to do its survey — I would never have thought they would take until March to get us the survey.”

“The largest issue in this right now is the easements,” added City Attorney Dwight Luhmann.

Questions also arose as to why the state needed the permanent easements and why they were being considered easements rather than simply being included as part of the site.

“We need to iron out questions before any decisions can be made,” said Councilmember Charlie Sparks.

Hoffman and Luhmann stated they would be working to gather more information in the coming week and would consider calling a special city council meeting if needed before the next council meeting on March 18.

Ristau parking request

Pam Ristau, a CPA with a business office located on St. Anthony Street, requested a two-hour parking zone to be established in front of her business.

In an email sent to City Administrator Joe Hoffman, Holly Zuck requested the designation on behalf of Ristau, explaining the request is just the 40-feet or so directly in front of the building itself.

“We are having a problem with vehicles being parked in front of the office that belong to people who rent apartments along the lower street,” the email stated. “These vehicles are causing our clients to park further away from the building and the heavy snows of recent have made the situation even more difficult.”

“We’ve been proactive,” Zuck explained at the meeting. “We’ve been asking several to move their vehicles, leaving notes on vehicles who have been parking there for long periods of time, even overnight.”

She stated there are nine other parking spots on that street, where people could park. However, she claimed, the area in front of the business is usually clear of snow and ice and so it presents an ideal parking area.

Mayor Kurt Reicks noted that other businesses have requested similar parking restrictions in the past, but the city has denied the requests. “It’s hard to enforce,” he added. “And, it requires a change of ordinance. If we do it for one, we have to do it for everyone who requests it and we just didn’t want to open that can of worms.”

Zuck added, “We just want to stop the people who are parking there all day long. It was a suggestion from somebody, if it goes through — that’s fine. If not, we’ll just keep putting notes on people’s cars.”

Councilmember Charlie Sparks said, “I would like to do it, but I would have liked to have done the others too.”

Reicks acknowledged that the city’s winter parking ordinance makes it difficult because upper-level apartment residents can’t park in front of the businesses.

No action taken was taken on the request.

Trout Days fireworks

The council reviewed and accepted the fireworks agreement with J&M Displays for the Trout Days fireworks in May. The fire department has provided a contract for $5,500 for fireworks for Trout Days weekend with Hoffman noting the cost was the same as last year.

The council has budgeted $4,500 in funding with the remainder to be funded by the fire department and donations.

The fireworks site will be the Welch property off the end of Overlook Drive.

Other business

As part of the consent agenda, the council approved a temporary liquor license for the Preston Fire Department for Trout Days.

The council approved a request from Reicks to attend the Minnesota Mayors Conference in Stillwater in April. The estimated cost is $650 for registration, lodging and travel.

The council was updated on the city’s request to purchase property near the state veterans home site from Chris Joerg. It was noted that he has verbally agreed with the city council’s offer to purchase. The purchase price is $23,500. Joerg will retain ownership of the utility shed currently located on the property and will remove it from the site later this spring.

The council approved Bob Smock’s appointed to the Tourism Board.