Street construction on track, residents ready for new streets

Spring Grove will have four newly paved roads in town, greatly increasing the happiness of drivers.

A construction update was provided to City Council members at their regular meeting on July 23.

The curb and gutter on 1st Ave. NW should be done soon, along with driveway aprons, sidewalks and new stairs and handicap ramp to City Hall. There will also be a handicap door.

The council approved the door to be installed by Spring Grove Lumber for $5,075. It will be insulated and open toward the south.

The road and sidewalks will be closed to through traffic until the roadway is paved, which is a common theme with this year’s construction. Paving should happen all at once, the council said.

On 2nd Ave. NW in front of Spring Grove Public Schools, the roadway has been rocked and prepped for curb and gutter, driveways and sidewalks.

Concrete will be poured after the pouring of the concrete on 1st Ave. NW.

For 3rd Ave. NW, this street is rocked and open to local traffic only. It will be paved along with the three previously mentioned roads.

For 1st St. NW, the west half of the road is rocked and the east half of the road is currently in progress.

Concrete curb and gutter, driveways and sidewalks will be done after the work on 2nd Ave. NW is completed.

As for Maple Drive and 3rd Ave. SW, that schedule is going to be determined after the streets mentioned above are completed. 

And with the wild Minnesota weather we have, the completion of road construction all depends upon the weather.

County comp plan

Council members heard from James Gardner, an environmental specialist with Houston County Planning and Zoning, about taking a comprehensive plan survey in order to update the county’s 10-year plan.

However, the last time the plan was completed was 1998, so in an effort to update that plan, the county will be making the surveys public soon. First, they are starting with cities and townships, then residents.

Gardner asked the council a few questions about the county’s strengths and weaknesses. Council member Karen Folstad noted the geography of this region is different from other regions of Minnesota, which makes it attractive.

She also noted in order to make a decent wage, a lot of people work out of town. They would like to see a job of some sort that could keep people in Houston County.

Council member Travis Torgerson agreed and added the addition of fiber optic cable to Spring Grove has been good infrastructure and provides opportunities to work from home or telecommute.

Mayor Sarah Schroeder said cities within the counties don’t work together or cross-reference each other. 

Council member Chad Rohland added it’s tough to keep people on the fire department if they work out of town. He would like to see more collaboration between the towns.

Council member Scott Solberg said he hears many people wanting to move back to Spring Grove, however, they want a home in the country. Oftentimes the barrier to that is country homes can come with more land than the homeowner bargained for.

Gardner said the minimum lot size in the county is a dwelling on one acre. If a plot of land is more than 40 acres, it’s considered a farm. If it’s less than 40 acres, prospective homeowners can apply for a conditional use permit in order to live there.

The comprehensive plan is expected to be completed by 2020-2021, Gardner said.

Approvals

The council accepted the resignation of police officer Brett Levin, effective July 22, and then promoted part-time police officer Jose Martinez to full-time. An ad for another part-time officer has been posted. 

The council discussed the possibility of adding a policy to prevent frequent turnover of officers, as small cities tend to see a lot of turnover. 

Though not official yet, the policy could require officers to pay back the cost of uniforms and bullet proof vests if they leave before a certain amount of time is completed (e.g.: two years with Spring Grove Police Department). 

Chief Paul Folz and Martinez agreed with the council about the potential policy. Folz said the uniform costs and bullet proof vest costs are about $700 to $800 each. 

In other approvals, the council approved $8,375 from Viking Electric to replace interior lights with LEDs at the Fest Building. 

This project was budgeted at $8,000, but will be a benefit to those who use the Fest Building, as each light will have its own switch on a switchboard. Instructions will be posted if confusion ensues.

The Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling will also get its own switch, and no longer will people need to climb up on a ladder to unplug or plug them in. The exit signs were also replaced, as they had not been in working condition for nearly 20 years, City Clerk/Treasurer Erin Konkel noted.

Finally, a 5K run/walk was announced for Uffda Fest, starting at 10 a.m. Rohland said it would be $5 for entry and hopefully bring people to town for the celebration. The council did not take action. 

The city of Spring Grove was also awarded a Minnesota Department of Health Certificate of Appreciation 50-year award for its contributions made on community water fluoridation.

Next meeting

The next regular meeting of the Spring Grove City Council will be held Aug. 20, at 6 p.m.

Shortly after that meeting, a budget workshop was scheduled. Both meetings may be held at City Hall, though that will be announced later.