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Star Prairie Village board moves forward on County M project

Theron Isensee of Esher Enterprises presents his proposal to relocate St. John’s Church to River Island Park in Star Prairie. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)1 / 2
A rendering of a potential location for St. John’s Church in River Island Park in Star Prairie. (Rendering by Tom Lindfors)2 / 2

Despite concerns raised by several residents regarding assessment costs, the Star Prairie Village Board of Trustees unanimously authorized Stevens Engineers’ Angela Popenhagen to proceed with final plans and bidding specifications for the 200-foot portion of County Road M stretching between the bridge over the Apple River and Highway 65. Plans call for the road to be widened to 35 feet, including new curbs and gutters, plus an additional six feet of sidewalk on both sides of the road.

“Because it is a county road, they (the county) will pay for removal of the existing 24-foot-wide roadway and repaving it with new asphalt,” Popenhagen said. “At this time there are no right of ways or easements that are needed because of this project.”

Several residents questioned whether the widening of the road by 5.5 feet and the addition of six feet of sidewalk was a cosmetic addition. They felt it would reduce their property values by reducing driveway space for their tenants. They also felt the estimated $6,000 impacted residents would incur as a result of the $30 per foot of assessed cost for curb and gutter would be more fair if it were distributed more widely across village residents since everyone uses the road.

“How much is right of way?” Trustee Bruce Johnson asked Popenhagen.

“Everything fits within the existing right of way of the village,” Popenhagen said.

“Safety is an issue. Once that bridge opens up and goes across to Minnesota we’re going to see even more traffic coming through our village,” Village President Greg Gibson said, defending the need for the new sidewalk.

As to the legality of the ordinance allowing the village to assess the cost of curb and gutters to adjacent property owners, attorney Tim Scott said such ordinances are standard procedure and additions like curbs, gutters and storm drains are generally considered improvements.

Popenhagen urged the board to authorize Stevens to begin preparing final plans for the project so that bidding could be begin in time to coordinate road construction with bridge construction scheduled to begin May 1. The village might be able to leverage a favorable bid from the contractor awarded the bridge construction contract.

“They might give us a good price if they’re already out there,” Popenhagen said.

St. John’s Episcopal Church Theron Isensee of Esher Enterprises presented the board with a series of artistic renderings showing different potential locations within River Island Park for St. John’s Episcopal Church as part of a relocation and restoration project Esher has undertaken.

The church was built in Star Prairie around 1875 by New England shipbuilder William Gibson. It’s currently located at Bundy Hall, a youth camp in Menomonie. Esher purchased the building with the intention of returning it to its original home in Star Prairie.

“The church was part of Star Prairie history for a long time and it deserves to be placed back within Star Prairie,” Isensee said. “The most ideal and centrally located area within the Village of Star Prairie is River Island Park. Having the church centrally located will give access and visual appeal to the village. As stated on the sign in River Island Park, ‘Dedicated to past community leaders for the enjoyment of future generation.’ This is why Esher believes that the church should be placed within the River Island Park grounds,” Isensee said.

The board recommended that Isensee meet with engineer Popenhagen and Brody Larson to determine which locations within the park are feasible depending on where utility lines are buried. Isensee will need to present his plan to the Plan Committee, to be followed by a public hearing, and then undergo the permitting process. Isensee told the board he must move the building from its present location in Menomonie by mid-July at the latest.

Other business: — The board approved a $20,000 proposal by W.W. Goetsch to completely rebuild a pump in lift station No. 2 including a new 40 horsepower backup pump that can be used at either lift station.

— The village was awarded $16,398.75 from the Local Roads Improvement Program for the Utgaard Avenue reconstruction project. The funds must be used by June 2018. The project is not yet scheduled.

— The board approved three separate ordinances intended to help define synthetic drugs, their licensing and consumption in order to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

— The board tabled discussion of a proposed ordinance intended to deal with social hosting responsibility. The ordinance is especially intended to address large, extreme underage drinking party situations.

— Police Chief Steven Lewis told the board a grant is available through UW-Madison to locate a drug drop off box in the village. Such boxes allow people to safely deposit unused or expired prescriptions instead of flushing them down the drain or otherwise disposing of them. The board declined the opportunity, citing other boxes already available in neighboring communities and the temptation created by these boxes to steal the discarded drugs.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Star Prairie Village Board will take place Monday March 5, at 7 p.m., at the Community Center.