Mayer keeps going ‘a roundabout’ the subject

By Emily Hedges

When it comes to constructing a roundabout at the intersection of County Road 25 and 7th Street in Mayer, the Mayer City Council hopes that residents will agree that it’s a deal that’s too good to pass up.

During the Feb. 11 regular meeting, City Engineer Dave Martini of Bolton & Menk presented the backstory of the proposed roundabout construction project at the intersection of Co. Rd. 25 and 7th Street that admittedly the city won’t actually need for a number of years.

“This didn’t begin as a roundabout project. Lots of discussions and decisions brought us here,” Martini said.

He explained that the story began when the Fieldstone development layout established Fieldstone Parkway, and 62nd Street, which didn’t line up with the intersection, was temporarily closed.

In the last couple of years, as Mayer Lutheran High School has begun planning improvements to its campus, representatives asked the city if it would be willing to vacate 62nd Street. Because the city’s overall transportation plan (created after the decision to allow Fieldstone Parkway) identified the future need for a north/south corridor, the council declined the request.

“As Coldwater expands to the north, we don’t want all traffic working its way to County Road 30,” said Martini. “The north part of Coldwater lines up with 7th Street.”

Martini said the key considerations in looking at 62nd Street were that it would provide access to the new corridor, and access from the west down 7th Street/62nd Avenue.

At that point, Mayer Lutheran came back with plans to reestablish 62nd Street, but needed to address the skew with the intersection, something MnDOT required. The school paid Bolton & Menk to take a look.

“We looked at various options — relocating the intersection, squaring it off — but the roundabout made the most sense,” Martini said. “It deals with the skew. It is configured to leave the angle at the intersection and handle those traffic movements. This solution was acceptable to MnDOT.”

This past summer the city applied for Cooperative Agreement funding from MnDOT. The project was awarded $391,000. It was the council’s understanding that Mayer Lutheran High would pick up two-thirds of the remaining project cost of $512,000.

“Initially, Mayer Lutheran always had a larger share than the city. Everyone recognized that the project is in the city’s best interest, but those goals are longer term. This project is being driven by the school’s schedule,” Martini said.
Council Member Daniel Lueth expressed his support of the project. “We get a million dollar project for 30 percent of the cost, and it’s a project we would eventually do anyway,” he said.

Council Member Tice Stieve-McPadden agreed, but understands why residents are having a hard time with it.

“The problem is we were ahead of our time. If we could see Mayer Lutheran advancing their project, I think the community would feel better about it. This is too big a story to tell people who stop us on the street and ask, ‘Why are you doing a roundabout when we don’t need one?’” she said.

Council Members feel that delaying now would lose the opportunity to use the grant money, and might lose a partner willing to help fit the bill. They also expressed concern that if Mayer Lutheran moves ahead alone, the school’s plans could conflict with the needs of the city at a later date.

“I don’t think we should be doing it right now, but at this point, I think we need to keep moving forward,” said Mayor Mike Dodge. “I do believe Mayer Lutheran should pick up two-thirds of the cost.”

The next steps for the city are to figure out exactly who is paying for what, and get a look at Mayer Lutheran’s final plans.

In other business, the council:
• Approved April 27, 2013 as Drug Take Back Day in Mayer. Residents may bring medicine from households including: prescription drugs, over the counter medicine, vitamins, supplements and pet medicines. They will not accept hospital/clinic medicines or needles. Take Back programs are taking place all over the state to combat the growing prescription drug abuse problem and accidental poisoning.
• Passed a resolution allowing survivor benefits to families of firefighters even if they are not vested with five years of service in the Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Retirement Plan. There is no increased cost to the city.
• Noted there were no auto crashes in 2012 in Mayer.
• Reduced the wage paid to the city’s compost facility employee to $8.50 an hour. Dodge compared what is required of this job compared to other work around the city and felt that the current wage of $10.86 was too high. The hours have changed from every Saturday during the spring and summer to every second, fourth and fifth Saturdays year round from 9 a.m. to noon.