Electric vehicle charging station to be installed downtown

Published 10:55 am Friday, April 28, 2023

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People with an electric vehicle will soon be able to charge their car in downtown Albert Lea.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved accepting an electric vehicle charging station donated from Freeborn Mower Electric Cooperative. The station will be installed in the southeast corner of the North Broadway parking lot.

The council approved the action 5-2, with councilors Rachel Christensen and Sherri Rasmussen voting against. The two councilors said while they support electric vehicles and protecting the environment, they did not think the city should get into the business of providing it.

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Christensen said she thought that accepting the donation would ultimately result in staff time for things such as when the city encountered things such as vandalism or when they had to handle disputes and noted that with the city’s limited budget, she didn’t think money should be invested into the effort.

Rasmussen agreed and said the city has many things it needs to be paying attention to and said she thought it would open up the city to liability.

“This would be a wonderful donation to like the Mayo Clinic or some other business downtown to put in if they were to choose to do that,” Rasmussen said.

The charging station, valued at $10,605, was donated by Freeborn Mower Electric Cooperative. The city would pay the cost of the installation for less than $2,000. The equipment is under warranty for five years.

City Manager Ian Rigg presented a proposal to consider making the first two hours of the charging station free for people and to then begin charging after that.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland said he thought the charging station would be a nice addition to the downtown but said he thought incorporating the two hours of free charging would be messy for staff. He recommended a flat fee.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker said he also thought the charging station would be a good addition to the downtown.

Sixth Ward Councilor Brian Anderson said though he shared some of Rasmussen’s concerns, he thinks this is the way of the future, and he would hate to see the donation get passed up.

Rigg said regarding concerns of vandalism, the city has installed cameras that capture the parking lot and offer high visibility.

Mayor Rich Murray asked if the Main Street program had been offered the charging station and if they could possibly run it, noting it could be a way to reduce some of the city’s liability.

He also asked whether Freeborn Mower Electric might be willing to donate the installation costs as well as the cost of the station itself. Rigg said he would inquire about the installation.

The council ultimately decided to forego the promotional two hours and will be determining the hourly charging cost at a future meeting.

Rigg during the meeting recommended somewhere between $1.50 and $2 an hour.

In other action, the council:

  • Approved the removal of the house and garage at 822 W. Clark St.

City Building Official Wayne Sorensen said the initial violation was posted in July 2019 at the property.

There had been a fire in the detached garage, and the house itself has foundation damage, rotted soffit, broken windows and deterioration on the roof structure.

Sorensen said the city does not make the recommendation to demolish a structure lightly. He estimated the cost for a new foundation alone would be $40,000.

  • Accepted the bid for the resurfacing project on portions of the Blazing Star Trail, Eddie Cochran Street and Cedar Avenue.

The low bid came from Ulland Brothers Inc. for about $549,000. The engineer’s estimate was about $608,000.

  • Waived the building permit fee for the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority for upcoming work at Shady Oaks. The fee was estimated at about $11,000.