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Village of Somerset considers taking legal action

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The Country Splash concert weekend in mid-June may have gone off without any major incidents, but the aftereffects are still being felt.

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At the finance meeting preceding the monthly Village of Somerset Board meeting on Thursday, June 24, the committee announced that a check from Archie's of Minnesota LLC, the company that sponsored the concert, was returned for insufficient funds.

The check was for approximately $14,000, which was an estimation from the village as to what it would cost to staff extra police officers and other administrative costs associated with the concert.

According to Pam Donohoe, village clerk and member of the finance committee, the village held the check for several days as requested by the Archie's personnel. Since the check was returned, the village will follow standard procedure and turn the case over to the district attorney's office.

Specifics of the incident were discussed during closed session.

When the regular village board meeting was called to order, Cedar Corp. representatives made a presentation to the board about developing the Apple River waterfront to utilize a grant Somerset had received from the Department of Commerce back in 2008.

"The purpose of the grant is to create a strategy and the appropriate tools in order to promote the economic revitalization of downtown community near the water," said Patrick Beilfuss, senior planner at Cedar Corp.

The areas identified began along the old school property, along the Apple River in the Main Street area, Village Park and down to Spring Street. There are also two village-owned properties behind the Village Hall across the river.

Beilfuss said they identified three areas of development: the park area (both sides of the river), mixed-use redevelopment area, and the downtown facade and restoration area.

He said they took into account what the village had already done, such as the renovated Main Street sidewalks and lights, and made suggestions to unify the theme throughout the area and attract more people downtown.

One such idea was to install another footbridge across the river to make a walking trail loop, thereby increasing foot traffic and allowing downtown businesses to be seen.

Another suggestion was to look at mixed-use redevelopment - having two-story buildings downtown that will allow for businesses on the ground floor and residential spaces above.

Having more parking lots will also entice people to come downtown, but Beilfuss advised "hiding" them by installing small rain gardens or other landscaping to soften the look.

For the park itself, they suggested paving the trails, redoing the stairs down to the park, erecting a pavilion with restrooms and possibly starting a farmers market.

For Main Street, Beilfuss suggested the village develop a standard building design guide. This way new businesses can see how to make their facade fit within the theme of the village, such as having awnings, brick facades, etc.

The board approved the Apple River Waterfront Development Plan.

In other news:

• Sicard said that the tennis courts at Veterans Park will be finished soon. The estimated project cost was $65,000, but by doing a lot of the work themselves and taking a little longer time, the completed cost is $43,000.

• The board approved spending $20,793 for crack sealing Spring Street.

• The Somerset Wrestling Club was approved for a picnic beer license on Aug. 7 from noon-11 p.m at the Apple River Family Campground. They will be having a "battle of the bands" concert.

• The board decided to table the revised building inspector's fees until next month.

• The board approved applying for the Safe Routes to School grant this year for Rivard Street - a sidewalk from the Stillwater Medical Center Clinic to Dairy Queen.

• The Village of Somerset meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The public is welcome to attend.

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