City agrees to 52-foot width

BLUE EARTH – Reversing an earlier decision, Blue Earth City Council on Tuesday opted to keep Second Street at its current width.

On Feb. 3, the council approved widening the street. But on Tuesday, Faribault County commissioners let it be known they want the street to remain 52 feet wide.

Commissioner Greg Young presented the county’s case to the council.

“We don’t want to spend $15,000 of taxpayers’ money … needlessly,” said Young, adding there was concern for landowners on the north side of the street.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey noted that one landowner does not want to lose the 8 feet that widening the street would take.

Currently, Second Street is 52 feet wide and has 37 angled parking stalls on the north and south side, but four stalls will be eliminated on the ends for crosswalk clearance. Keeping angled parking on both sides will give the street 33 stalls.

City Engineer Wes Brown said if the street remains a two-way, it could be a challenge to line up the center line with adjacent blocks. He said if angled parking is kept on the south and parallel parking is put in on the north side, the stripes will line up. Parallel parking will reduce the number of stalls to 27.

“Do you want to lose seven parking stalls at the courthouse?” asked Councilman John Gartzke.

Young said commissioners did not want to lose the blueprint of the street, and the rest can be decided later.

“We’d really like to explore the possibility of making it a one-way,” Young added.

“The parking we can determine later,” said Mayor Rick Scholtes. “We just need to get the width of the road set.”

The council approved setting the width of the street at 52 feet, with Gartzke dissenting.

There will be a public hearing at 5:05 p.m. March 3 at the Public Safety Building in Blue Earth for the public to ask questions and get more information about the Second Street construction.

In other news, the council approved hiring a full-time liquor store clerk.

Currently, the liquor store is being manned by manager Don Adams and Craig Wells, the only full-time employees, and several part-timers.

All the part-timers have full-time jobs elsewhere, said Bailey, and the city is having a difficult time filling all the shifts due to availability. That means Adams and Wells have filled the shifts and racked up overtime.

The part-timers are still tallying more than 70 hours in a pay period, so there is not much difference in how much a full-timer would work. The new employee would receive benefits too.

“Is $11.50 enough to hire somebody and keep them?” Gartzke asked.

Candidates who come in with experience will be paid accordingly, Bailey said.

“We want someone long-term and dependable,” she added.