After a year, Kiester finally gets new downtown street

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

It took a year, and required residents to put up with major disruptions, but Kiester now has a brand new Main Street downtown.

Construction began in May of 2001, and the final layers of blacktop were laid down Tuesday.

The project rebuilt the street from below the ground to the surface, replacing the water main, the storm sewers, and laying electrical lines underground, as well as pouring new sidewalks and a new roadbed. Part of the work involved leveling out the streets downtown, eliminating the need for steps in several locations.

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&uot;The construction caused some havoc, but people and businesses were really cooperative, and we’re all glad it’s finished,&uot; said Roger Oldfather, Kiester’s mayor.

&uot;Hopefully this helps keep the community’s businesses alive,&uot; Oldfather added.

Duane Pederson is one business owner who is glad the street work is all finished, even though he found that it turned out to be more of an inconvenience than a major impediment to his work. His gas station and repair shop, Duane’s Felco Service, is located downtown, with the repair bays opening out right onto Main Street.

&uot;The workers were really cooperative. They almost went out of their way to make it easier on us,&uot; Pederson said. They would often move equipment to allow him to maneuver cars into or out of the garage.

The total project involved four blocks of Main Street, and the costs were shared among the state of Minnesota, Faribault County and the city of Kiester. People in Kiester, a community of 540 south of Wells, feel lucky that the city was able to gain access to state and county funds, Oldfather said.

&uot;It took seven years of planning and patience,&uot; said Oldfather. City officials worked with Bill Sayre, an engineering consultant, as they developed their ideas. The city was responsible for the water main and storm sewer work, which will be paid for out of municipal water user fees and the city’s general fund, he said. Work was originally scheduled to begin in 2000, but since that was the community’s centennial, they asked to have the project delayed until 2001-2002.

Sorenson Bros. from Albert Lea was the general contractor for the project, with Ulland Bros. responsible for the roadwork. According to city residents and business owners, the impact on the community was eased through the efforts of Marlin Albers, a city employee who helped coordinate communication between the construction crews and the community.

With a new Main Street, lined with retail businesses and professional buildings, the community now has a downtown to be proud of, said Oldfather.