Fairmont puts together ‘wish list’

FAIRMONT – A wish list for the city of Fairmont was created Wednesday night in an informal work session with elected officials and staff.

In August, the City Council will review a preliminary budget for 2014 and a vote will be held in September, but on Wednesday, finances were put on the back burner and dreaming was encouraged.

“Tonight it’s anything you want,” instructed city administrator Mike Humpal.

Feasibility will come into play when Humpal takes the list back to city department heads to talk about the associated costs of the proposed improvements and potential funding sources.

State aid to the city will be bumped up just $18,000 for 2014, and the state is limiting levy increases to 3 percent, so the council won’t have much money for its wish list.

Humpal encouraged the council not to think too much about those things though on Wednesday, which is why some of the items on the wish list are more realistic than others.

Improvements the council listed in its brainstorming session included:

o Parking lots. Throughout Downtown Plaza, the lots are in rough shape, with cracks and potholes. The city can assess adjoining property owners for repairs to those lots.

The gravel parking area at Gomsrud Park also was mentioned, but the group agreed the dirt lot by the prairie dog exhibit would be higher on the list of surfaces needing to be paved since the lot has been shut down for days to weeks at a time when it gets too muddy to use.

o New council chairs, and camera and audio system used to record council meetings at City Hall.

o Technology, like providing wireless Internet throughout Fairmont, upgrading the city’s website, and creating a mobile app for city news.

o Park updates and expansions.

The new Winnebago Sports Complex isn’t quite complete yet, as the council pointed out Wednesday. Signage and more is still needed at the site, and potentially playground equipment.

At the soccer complex, the council would also like to see playground equipment and sidewalks or trails to make it easier for people to walk across the grass to the fields.

The aquatic park also got attention, since the city would like to better promote the venue, as well as improve staffing and hours. The council talked about adding a putt-putt golf course near the site too, and maybe a dog park.

o Trail expansions near Knollwood Drive and Lakeside Cemetery.

o A landmark to represent Fairmont. One example given was a lighthouse. The idea would be to pull people off Interstate 90 to see the landmark.

o A movie theater.

“I’d hate to get into the theater business, but it would be nice to have one,” said Mayor Randy Quiring.

The council members agreed they frequently hear complaints that a city Fairmont’s size doesn’t have a theater, though they weren’t sure what role the city should take in providing one.

Humpal noted that the city of St. Peter recently lost more than $100,000 it put into its theater when the venue closed.

o Equipment to clear trails of snow in the winter, and a second leaf vacuum to help with cleaning up leaves in the fall.

o Airport upgrades, from cosmetic – paint – to security improvements.

The public will have an opportunity to present its input on potential improvements in Fairmont at the City Council meetings. The preliminary budget will be presented at the Aug. 26 meeting, and the council will vote on the budget Sept. 9.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month at City Hall.