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LP City Council denies school’s request to vacate part of street
March 13, 2020

Mark Mitten

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – The Lester Prairie City Council is wrestling with the prospect of permanently closing the portion of 2nd Ave. N., between Fir St. and Hickory St., to accommodate Lester Prairie Schools’ expansion plan. The school is planning an expansion and remodeling project, which would include a new addition to the current building, stretching north where 2nd Avenue is currently located.

At the council meeting Tuesday evening, Superintendent Dr. Melissa Radeke and H+U Construction CFO Joe Uhlhorn answered questions regarding the project. However, Mayor Eric Angvall expressed hesitation.

“Do we want to give up a street?” Angvall asked the council. “If we give up a street, it’s permanent.”

Angvall said he did not want to move forward without “ironed down” details. He explained that he believed the Aug 13 referendum vote on the school expansion project was to approve a design “concept,” and not a “plan.”

Uhlhorn disagreed that the plans given to the public for the referendum were merely a concept. He explained that while a “conceptual design” had been approved by voters, “full design plans” could only be solidified once contractor bids are obtained. He noted that the bidding process could not begin until the city council approved the street’s “vacancy request.”

“I want the school to grow and expand; that’s part of the city. But we also have 1,700 other people who are part of the city,” Angvall said.

“The majority of people who voted are for vacating the street,” Radeke said, “and that was part of the plan.”

Angvall objected, and said that an average voter might not have realized that the street would be closed.

In response, Radeke noted that previous superintendent Jeremy Schmidt had arranged several public meetings to inform the public of the school’s intention to build over 2nd Avenue.

“There was ample information on the school website that included the plan over the street,” Radeke added. “That was not a secret.”

The city council voted on the 2nd Avenue school/street vacancy request. Councilmembers Ron Foust, Paul Dhoore, and Luke Meyer all voted to approve the request. Angvall voted against. The request failed to pass, since approval of a street vacancy requires four out of five votes. One council member seat was vacant, rendering a unanimous vote necessary.

Angvall suggested the council conduct a workshop to specifically discuss the issue further. The council agreed, and scheduled the workshop for 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 17. Radeke and Uhlhorn said they will attend.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• conducted an open hearing to allow for public input regarding an upcoming housing development, which will be known as the Ross subdivision.

• heard from Lions Club President Troy Feltmann, who discussed plans to improve the park shelter at the 2nd Ave. Park. The Lions will be donating funds toward the project.

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