Criterium bike race to return to Waconia in May

Waconia citizens associate many things with Memorial Day, including time on the lake, attending a program, or hanging out with family. For the past two years, the MN Memorial Classic criterium bike race has become part of the tradition and in 2014, the race will make its return to Waconia for a third consecutive year.
The MN Memorial Classic is a cycling event that starts on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and finishes on Monday. The race has drawn participants from Minnesota, Wisconsin, both Dakotas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. In 2013, the average participation was 165 racers per day. In 2014, the race starts in Rockford on Saturday, will be held in Lester Prairie on Sunday, and finishes in Waconia on Monday, May 26.
A criterium is a bike race contested on a course between .6 mile to a little over a mile. The racers do continuous laps for a specified length of time on the same course, depending on skill level. The better skilled racers will race for 60 minutes where the less experienced participants will race for 30 minutes. During the day, six different skilled fields would race in six different races.
In Waconia, the race headquarters would be the parking lot on 2nd Street between S Vine Street and S Maple Street. The course would travel counter clockwise starting on Vine Street to 1st Street to S Maple Street E to 2nd Street to S Walnut Street to 3rd Street and back onto S Vine Street.
As in past years, residents living along these streets would not be able to access the affected streets during the races but they would be contacted and given a race schedule so they would know when access is available. Officers from the Carver County Sheriff’s Office would be on hand to assist with traffic control.
The council approved the use of city streets for the event during its consent agenda.
Also during the meeting, the council held a discussion regarding the replacement of the city’s digital phone switch and handsets, something that was budgeted for in the 2014 Capital Budget.
The council ultimately approved a bid from Marco, the city’s current provider for voice and date infrastructure needs, at a cost of $29,789, which was more than the $25,000 that was budgeted for the project, and higher than a second bid, which was $27,209 from Cady Communications.
According to Assistant City Administrator Shane Fineran, a recommendation to go with Marco, despite the higher cost, was due to several factors, including the bid’s inclusion of front desk software and a satisfaction with the level of service and comfort with the relationship established with the current vendor.
It was also noted that there would be extra costs associated with switching to Cady Communications which weren’t reflected in that bid, meaning both bids would ultimately be fairly even in the end.
Mayor Jim Nash said he wasn’t really moved by basing a decision on the city’s established relationship with the vendor but if the bid offered higher functionality, that would be a reason to consider.
The new handsets will be phased in over the next three years. Current handsets will be compatible with the new system until they are switched over.
In other matters:
• The Waconia Fire Department will hold its Spring Pancake, French Toast and Sausage Breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Waconia Fire Station on Sunday, April 13. Advance tickets are $6 and are available from firefighters. When purchased at the door, tickets are $7. Children age 5 and under eat for free.
The event is a fundraiser for the fire department, which holds a breakfast in the spring and fall each year.
• During the “Visitor’s Presentations, Petitions, Correspondence” portion of the meeting, Janell Coulson, a citizen residing on 1st Street W, voiced her concerns about the city’s potential use of assessments to help fund the 2014 improvement project. Noting that she has been a tax paying resident of the city for 37 years, Coulson expressed her disappointment of facing an assessment that could cost her more than $8,000.
Coulson also contended that she has talked to several neighbors who are facing similar potential assessments and that they are also disappointed and feel that their feedback would not be heard or taken seriously. Nash said that he and other city officials do take citizen concerns seriously and invited Coulson to visit city hall to learn more about the assessment process and the limited options the city has to fund these projects.
• The council discussed but ultimately tabled consideration of a request from Security Bank, which is considering taking ownership of three commercial properties located on Cherry Drive before those properties enter into full tax forfeiture status. The properties were previously owned by the Klingelhutz Development Company.
Taxes and assessments on the properties have gone unpaid for several years and the city is owed for storm water and street light charges (along with accumulating penalties and interest) on each of the parcels.
Security Bank asked the city to consider abating the delinquent utility special assessments that were put on the rolls for these properties with taxes payable in 2014, an amount totaling $5,159.72.
It was noted that assisting the bank with this write off would allow the parcels to move out of the tax forfeiture redemption period and move them more quickly back onto the regular tax rolls. On a similar note, if the parcels go into forfeiture, the city would lose the taxes and assessments anyway.
According to City Administrator Susan Arntz, this type of abatement has not been done during her tenure in Waconia but it has been done in other cities in the Twin Cities area. Council members wanted to hear from Security Bank about the request but no one from the bank was present at the meeting so the issue was tabled until the next council meeting.
• The city is applying for a grant worth up to $2,500 from CenterPoint Energy. If received, the city would be required to match the grant. Since the city is already planning to purchase two air tanks at a cost of $2,300 for the fire department, receiving this grant in full would allow the city to acquire four tanks for the budgeted price of two. City officials expect to find out if the city received the grant by the end of April or early May.
On a related matter, officials are pursuing a grant from the Minnesota DNR for a 50/50 cost share for the 2014 Interlaken basketball and tennis court project, which is budgeted at an estimated cost of $180,500.
• The council approved control and equipment upgrades for Green Meadows lift station in the amount of $62,000. The work will enable the station to meet the current “City Lift Station Standardization Program” that was adopted by the council in October 2011. At this time, city staff is struggling to keep the lift station’s pumps operating and are experiencing other control issues with the lift station.
Work is expected to begin immediately and the project being completed sometime in June.
• The Waconia City Council’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 7.

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

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