City takes step to join MnDOT in flood reduction

Published 10:07 pm Monday, November 13, 2017

The Albert Lea City Council took a step toward attempted flood reduction on a commonly used roadway on Monday.

The council authorized the city to enter into a letter of intent with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The goal of a proposed cooperation between the city and MNDOT is to focus on flood reduction on an area including U.S. Highway 65 — also known as Main Street — in the area between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake.

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“We know that we have flooding problems in this city when we get heavy rains, and that particular stretch of road is front and center,” 3rd Ward Councilor Jason Howland said. “When we do have floods to have that you know one of our main thoroughfares to be impassable for sometimes days at a time is unacceptable, and I’m glad we’re moving forward and getting this first step, getting this study done.”

The cooperation includes a flood mitigation study carried out jointly by the city and MnDOT, and the agreement places 20 percent of the costs on the city with a cap of $25,000.

“I think we’ve been sending a lot of documentation to MNDOT with essentially every rain event and issue we’ve had there,” City Manager Chad Adams said. Adams said that in the absence of a flood study, MNDOT is not interested in participating in funding.

Adams said construction is tentatively set to begin in 2021.

In other action, the council:

• Witness Mayor Vern Rasmussen sign a proclamation declaring Nov. 25 to be Small Business Saturday.

According to the proclamation, 97.7 percent of businesses in the United States are small businesses. The proclamation stated tat the city supports local businesses as part of holiday shopping and for their ability to create jobs and boost the economy.

“These are the small businesses, and if we help them grow and succeed, we grow and succeed as a community,” 1st Ward Councilor Rich Murray said of Small Business Saturday. “I just think this is the way that we’re going to grow some jobs in this community and get people to work.”

Approved a bow hunting license permit request to be passed on to the Department of Natural Resources, an item added by the city manager during his report. The city issues licenses on a case-by-case basis to individuals who agree to comply to standing ordinances and to hunt on private property with the consent of the property owner.

Adams said the city will most likely continue to grant bow-hunting licenses on a case-by-case basis as long as the Department of Natural Resources remains comfortable with that and demand does not increase. Including this one, Adams said the city has had two requests for bow-hunting permits this year.

• Heard an update about potential use for the Freeborn National Bank building.

Adams said he is hoping to receive a feasibility report from Freeborn Development Group LLC sometime this week, which the council will hear at the Nov. 27 meeting.

• Heard an update on the investigation relating to further options for hospital services in Albert Lea, currently being conducted by Quorum Health Resources LLC. Adams said the report is to be completed just after Thanksgiving and will be made available to the public. The consulting firm is finishing up additional analysis.

Approved 10 properties for tax abatement according to a Minnesota statute. This allows property owners of newly constructed homes to pay no property tax for five years with the intent of incentivizing similar construction.

Heard an announcement from Rasmussen. He announced that, following an incident in which someone received an anonymous letter at their home that Rasmussen said demonstrated “not respecting that everybody has the right to an opinion,” members of the public who come to speak at the public forum will no longer be asked to provide their address.

Welcomed a troop of Boy Scouts to the meeting. The troop joined the councilors for a session prior to the meeting in pursuit of a badge.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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