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City paves way for development

Construction activity around New Richmond is likely to pick up in the coming months.

At Monday’s regular New Richmond City Council meeting, a variety of commercial projects were discussed and steps toward approval were taken.

The site plan and stormwater review were approved for a new building in the Business and Technical Park. Fitzgerald Lawn Care will soon begin construction of a new facility near the Fastenal and Oevering Homes building just off Richmond Way.

According to Beth Thompson, community development director, the city will close on the sale of the lot to owner Dan Fitzgerald on Friday. Excavation work for the project will begin on Monday, with actual construction of the building starting in August.

Thompson said the building will have a partial brick facade, and the property will be nicely landscaped.

While the initial idea for the building is to serve as a base of operations for Fitzgerald Lawn Care, Thompson said the owner is thinking about adding a retail store to the structure in a year or so to sell such things as fertilizer and seed.

Also on the night’s agenda was approval of the final certified survey map for the Richmond Crossing development. Maurices is already constructed and operating on the corner of Richmond Way and Knowles Avenue, but a new Dollar Tree store is in the process going up within that development as well. The CSM also lays out the future locations for the planned Culvers and Grandstay Hotel buildings, which will all be north of Walmart.

The council also approved a $158,000 bid by Miller Excavating for street and utility improvements into the Richmond Crossing site. A second street and utility project to provide access to the Culvers and Grandstay sites will be considered in the fall.

The council also dealt with another building project that will occur at the base of the community’s downtown water tower. Verizon received approval to construct a small equipment building and place a cellphone antenna on the city’s water tower. The facility will be shielded by a fence, and a backup generator will also be installed at the site. Two dedicated parking spaces will also be paved for the site.

City Administrator Mike Darrow said the community wants wireless companies to co-locate on city water towers so that separate monopoles don’t pop up around town. T-Mobile already has an antenna on the downtown water tower.

“It does create some revenue for the city,” Darrow added.

In other business:

• The council approved the certified survey map for the proposed Doughboy Trail, which will connect the community’s pathways on the north and south sides of town.

According to Joe Kerlin, parks and recreation director, the trail project is made possible due to the donation of 4.79 acres of land by Gail and Bill Buell. The city will also lease a portion of land from Domain Inc. to gain access to High Street on the north part of the trail link.

Several council members questioned the 25-year lease, wondering why the city wouldn’t try to buy the land to make the trail permanent. Kerlin said the hope was to someday reroute the trail through nearby land, but that is no longer likely. He said the city would have further discussions with the Buells about the property to be leased.

• The city’s planned public works projects for the summer were changed. New Richmond had planned to spend about $100,000 to upgrade 115th Street and 175th Avenue in conjunction with the Town of Richmond. But township officials asked to delay the project, and the city agreed. Instead, city crews will be spending about $85,000 on chip sealing for West Richmond Way; West Fourth Street, from South Knowles Avenue to County Road A; East First Street, from South Knowles Avenue to Grand Avenue. About $10,000 was allocated to curb and gutter repair downtown, and $3,500 was set aside for inspection of the dam.

• The council approved an additional $36,000 to be spent from the contingency fund so that brick siding can be added to the renovated fire hall downtown. Even after the added expenditure, about $14,000 remains in the contingency fund.

• The council approved a new exterior light ordinance that will require future developers to comply with industry standards related to glare reduction and keeping light from trespassing on nearby properties.

• The council adopted a new sign ordinance that will allow for some signage in residential areas for churches and other facilities.

• The city gave its approval to seek bids for a new well to provide water for the future irrigation system at Freedom Park. The cost of the well, up to $50,000, will be covered by donations and borrowing park fee funding.

• In recognition of Kerlin’s last meeting, the council thanked the outgoing parks and recreation director for his 17 years of service to the community.Council member Jim Zajkowski noted that the city’s park and trail system has grown a lot during Kerlin’s tenure.

“It’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish in the city,” he said. “Joe has done a good job.”

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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