Harmony government agencies, school district share goals at joint meeting
Wednesday, March 08, 2017 11:23 AM
Members of the Harmony City Council, Harmony Economic Development Authority and the Fillmore Central School Board met last Tuesday evening to share information about upcoming projects and future goals. The representatives also discussed any areas in which they could work together to accomplish any common goals.
One upcoming project for the school district could involve the city because of the location of a proposed storage shed.
Superintendent Richard Keith noted the district would like to build something for vehicle and equipment storage this summer. The building would have water and electricity, space for football equipment and seven bays in which to park school vehicles and equipment.
The location would be near the community center, on the school property near the football practice fields.
However, School Board Member Jim Love noted the district would also be willing to purchase a parcel of land from the city if it was open to letting the storage building be built south of the community center parking lot. This would alleviate a need to adjust the location of practice fields as well as eliminate the need to extend the street to the new structure.
Love also noted having the school vans and other vehicles located at the storage building at the community center location would also free up more parking at the high school site.
One item of consideration is also a proposed helipad that would be located in the same vicinity. A more secure site is needed for medical transport helicopters to land within the city and a possible site is in the city’s grassy lot near the community gardens.
Councilmembers voiced support of working with the school district on a land purchase if that did become the desired location for the storage building.
Another project coming up this summer includes the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) planned improvements to Highway 139, which will include milling and overlay and new sidewalks along the front of the school. The project is expected to begin July 10 and take 30 working days, said Board Member Craig Britton.
There will not be a detour or any major disruptions to traffic expected, said City Administrator Jerome Illg. “There will be a flag person with controlled entrances and exits during the process,” he added.
Discussion of this topic also led to a brief mention of the school’s parking lot and Mayor Steve Donney noted that some students are parking in a “no parking” area. He suggested the school staff remind students that there is nearby parking by the Methodist church and just north of the grocery store.
In regards to the parking lot at the school, Keith also noted it needs to be finished this summer as well. There will be some landscaping done, with a row of trees being planted between the parking lot and school. A flagpole will be incorporated into the area with the memorial benches as well.
Councilmember Steve Sagen raised a concerned about the “pond” located next to the school parking lot. He said he worries about the water rising in that area and washing out the public sidewalk that it is adjacent to.
Illg said MnDOT may be adjusting some elevations in that area this summer as well. He said the catch basin near the parking lot is not meant to be a wet pond, but MnDOT may need to control the runoff with a pipe.
In regards to other improvements at the school, Keith said the district has been doing a lot of work on the exterior of the high school building, including tuckpointing, painting doors and washing the outside of the building.
Future building goals include moving the high school offices off of the second floor and closer to an entrance in the “not too distant future.” He mentioned the possibility of switching places with the current media center or building a new entrance to accommodate the offices.
Giesen gave a brief explanation of what the EDA has been working on over the past year, including a bike trail extension from Harmony to the Iowa border, which would include a spur to Niagara Cave.
It was noted the bike trail will utilize the county road behind the high school to transition riders from the Harmony visitor center to the new trail. There will be signage of the shoulders for riders to follow. While there will need to be some awareness of potential bike riders in that area, the peak season for bikers is when school is out of session.
EDA President Chris Skaalen noted that the EDA and city of Harmony are dealing with the “political hurdles” of getting funding for that project. The land options are secured and the route to the border is set. Once the funding is in place, construction could begin relatively quickly.
It was also noted that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has elevated the local bike trail project in its own priority list, which could help garner support for the extension.
Other EDA projects that have developed over the past year include working with developers of Harmony Spirits distillery, which will be coming to the downtown area. EDA members have also been trying to secure a dentist for the community.
Long-term goals for the EDA include working on further expansion of the industrial park and working on more residential development.
Giesen also said the city is looking to attract a data center, where residents could work remotely for larger, urban companies.
Skaalen mentioned that it might be beneficial to do a community survey once again as the city and EDA has addressed most of the priorities set forth by the last set of community meetings. Attracting a dentist remains as one of the priorities that came out of those meetings, but beyond that, more direction could be developed. “Where do we go from here,” he asked. “What are our next steps?”
The board, EDA and City Council members agreed that a joint meeting between the entities was beneficial. It was also suggested that future meetings might involve representatives of the local booster clubs, community foundations and chambers of commerce.