Trinity seeks slower traffic on Birch Street

In recent months, the Waconia City Council considered and ultimately acted on citizen requests to improve safety at the intersection of Maple and Main streets in downtown Waconia. At its meeting on Monday, Jan. 7, the council approved a similar plan to help improve safety on Birch Street near Trinity Lutheran School.
As explained by Trinity Principal Randy Ash, the school is located on the corner of Birch and 2nd streets and school buses for the Waconia School District use Birch Street to drop off and pick up students attending Trinity as well as those who are being transferred or dropped off from Waconia Public Schools.
Ash noted that bus and car traffic along Birch Street can create safety concerns for students who often cross Birch to get to the bus stop or cross Birch after being dropped off. Ash requested that the city designate Birch Street — from 2nd Street to just south of Koch Bus Company — as a School Zone with the appropriate signage and restrictions to help slow traffic and make drivers more aware of the need to be cautious around the school.
The council approved the request to install “School Zone” signage around Trinity, work that will cost the city about $2,200 and should be completed later this winter.
As explained by Public Services Director Craig Eldred, the city requested review of several school zone areas to improve driver awareness of, and designation of school zones, as part of a Safe Routes to School initiative in 2008. At this time, Trinity is  the lone school to not receive the recommended improvements.
“Upon the school’s administrative request we intend on completing the necessary improvements and updates,” Eldred said. “Completion of the work should happen sometime in late January, or early February as we had to order specialized signage. We normally defer from stocking this type of signage due to its specialty and design.”
The council also authorized the city engineer to prepare plans that will result in the replacement of a boulder wall located on 2nd Street E just east of Trinity Lutheran Church and School.
The wall is about 142 feet in length and its height varies from 2 to 11 feet. Concerns first surfaced about the wall in the fall of 2011, when city officials noted potential issues that could cause private property damage and possible soil erosion into the storm drainage system. After monitoring the wall’s condition, officials decided that replacing the wall should be a project for the 2013 Capital Improvement Plan.
According to Eldred, all of the work on the wall will take place within the city’s designated right-of-way and the wall will be similar in size and look to the concrete block walls on Highway 284. Eldred expects quotes for the work to be received in April or May with the project beginning in June or July and being substantially completed by August.
Also during the meeting, a number of organizational items were addressed.
For example, Councilor Kent Bloudek was appointed as Acting Mayor for 2013 in those cases when Mayor Jim Nash is unavailable. The Waconia Patriot was designated as the city’s office newspaper for 2013. The city’s official depositories for city funds in 2013 are KleinBank of Waconia, Security Bank of Waconia, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and MidCountry Bank. Melchert Hubert Sjodin was designated as the city attorney for 2013 and Kreg Schmidt / Bolton & Menk, Inc. were appointed as the consulting engineer for 2013.
Several personnel moves were approved, including the appointment of Kevin Johnson to the new maintenance worker position in the utilities division. Johnson was one of 75 applicants for the position. The council also approved the appointment of several Park and Recreation positions. Amanda Johnson was appointed as the Membership Coordinator, Courtney Sitz will be the On-Site Manager (full-time) and David Wabbe was appointed as the Ice Arena & Outdoor Recreation Program Manager.
Two citizens — JD Ludford (second term) and Michael Werner  — were appointed to the Park Board. There is still one opening on the Park Board. Interested citizens may contact city hall to learn more about filling that seat. Sharon Parpart was re-appointed to a seat on the Planning Commission, which currently has no vacancies.
Marta Beckett and Tiffany Nelson were appointed to seats on the Commission on Aging, which currently has two vacancies. As with the Park Board, citizens interested serving on this commission may contact city hall.
In other matters:
• The council appointed officers for the Waconia Fire Department for 2013. The appointments are completed on an annual basis. The council conducted interviews for Fire Chief on Dec. 3 and the Fire Department Executive Board interviewed all other officer candidates in mid-December.
The appointed officers are: Mark Morse (Fire Chief), Randy Sorensen (Assistant Chief Operations), Brandon Kolesar (Assistant Chief Training), David Shaw (Engine Captain), Jeff Hillstrom (Hose Captain), Justin Sorensen (Ladder Captain), Aaron Sorensen (Engine Lt.), Brian Roy (Hose Lt.), David Marquardt (Ladder Lt.), and Dusty Olson (Secretary).
• A thorough review of city code relating to alcoholic beverages was conducted by the city attorney at the end of 2012. As a result of that review, several updates, clarifications and a couple of new licenses were added to the code and the council approved an amendment that reflected those changes during the meeting.
As explained by City Attorney Mike Melchert, most of the substance of the code remains unchanged with a focus on updating the ordinance to accurately reflect current statutory requirements, to remove redundant language, and to clarify vague provisions that proved problematic in enforcement actions in recent years.
The amendment adds provisions that allows the city to issue off-sale small brewer’s licenses, on-sale brewer taproom licenses and wine festival licenses. City officials will contact the city’s liquor license holders and send them a memo that talks about the updates and a copy of the new ordinance.
• The Waconia Lions Club donated $2,500 to the city to be used for the purpose of entering into a one-year contract with Reach for Resources, a non-profit organization that offers specialized services intended to meet the needs of people with a wide variety of cognitive and developmental disabilities and provide support for their families. The contract would allow Reach for Resources to provide staff for in pool or on ice assistance for people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. The arrangement allows those people to participate in a class atmosphere while allowing city staff to teach and give attention to the entire class. Reach for Resources would also organize group activities that would be held at Safari Island.
Should the city continue working with Reach for Resources in future years, the contract cost would be a base fee determined by the number of other participating communities and the city’s use the previous year.
• The city is creating a 15-member taskforce to work on a Downtown Plan that would concentrate on business development and infrastructure needs in downtown Waconia. With the assistance of the city engineer, the plan will be a three to five year physical and economic development plan for downtown.
As explained during the meeting, the physical portion of the plan will review streetscape, traffic flow, signage, parking, utility and street conditions. The economic development part of the plan will include a review of the city’s current programs and tools to see what can possibly be modified. Readers may recall that Mayor Jim Nash wrote about the taskforce in his Mayor’s Notes column that appeared in the Dec. 20 Patriot.
City officials hope to present more information on the taskforce to the council at its next meeting.
• The city acknowledged the donation of a happy holidays backlit for the monument sign on Highway 5 and Olive Street given by CD Products.
On a related note, the city is looking at creating a holiday lighting and banner replacement plan as some of the banners are aging and lighting improvements are needed for the snowflake swags that are placed throughout downtown. In 2012, two of the snowflake swags had to be removed due to electrical issues and lighting failures.
Although an effort will be made to refurbish some of the decorations, city officials will also approach local organizations about their interest in assisting and promoting the replacement plan.
• The council’s next meeting will be held at city hall at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The meeting was moved from Monday, Jan. 21 because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. City hall will be closed on Jan. 21.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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