County weighs in on Blue Earth street project

BLUE?EARTH – Blue Earth City Administrator Kathy Bailey talked to Faribault County commissioners on Tuesday about a proposed construction project on Second Street, just north of the courthouse.

Blue Earth City Council has approved widening Second Street to 60 feet and keeping angled parking on both sides. A public hearing on the project is scheduled for March 3 at the Public Safety Building.

Bailey said the decision is contingent on the opinions of commissioners and local residents.

Currently, there are 37 parking stalls in the block north of the courthouse. The city’s preferred option would retain 34 stalls, because no matter what option is chosen, four stalls will be eliminated – two on each end – to improve sightlines on the corners and for crosswalks.

Bailey mentioned the council has two other options. One would leave the street at 52 feet, but change the parking to parallel on the north side. This would reduce the number of stalls to 27.

A third option, quickly rejected by the City Council, is to change the parking to 30 degrees, which would leave just 25 stalls.

Commissioner Greg Young asked why the street is being widened. Bailey said it is too narrow for vehicles to pass comfortably. Widening it also would facilitate snow removal.

Commissioner Tom Loveall remarked that the idea has been raised of moving county operations to a more spacious location, but it has always been felt keeping things in the courthouse is best.

“The constraints of having this historic building here is something the county accepts,” he said.

He added that the 37 stalls in the block north of the courthouse are all used many days.

“I do have a concern with us losing space,” Loveall said.

“I think it’s important we have parking,” said Commissioner Tom Warmka. “This is the people’s house.”

In other action Tuesday, county commissioners approved two appointees but balked at a third.

Ken Ripley was appointed to the Extension Board to take the seat of the late Carmen Klatt, while Sharon Grunzke was re-appointed to the Economic Development Authority for three years.

Auditor John Thompson announced that Maureen Mittelstadt has resigned from the Planning and Zoning board and the Board of Adjustments.

Michelle Stindtman, program administrator of Soil and Water, has suggested replacing Mittelstadt with Sherwood Krosch. Loveall said Stindtman is looking for someone to come in quickly because she is worried about the boards being short of members. Krosch had previously served on the boards.

Young objected because Mittelstadt was from his district and he wants her replacement to be too. Krosch is from Commissioner John Roper’s district.

“I would agree with Commissioner Young,” said Commissioner Bill Groskreutz. “If it’s in his district, it’s his responsibility to fill it.”

Young asked that commissioners give him time to find an appointee, and the matter was tabled until the next meeting.

In other news, commissioners approved:

o Using county roads 16, 1, 8 and 6 as detours when the state performs ramp construction on Interstate 90. The state will reimburse the county $4,466 for road life.

o A three-year contract with its dispatchers and jailers. The contract includes health insurance benefits that will match other employee contracts, a 2.5 percent wage increase each year and a $25 annual increase in the uniform allowance.