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City trail projects advance, field agreements and CUP also approved at city council meeting

The Worthington City Council on Monday night approved plans for a trail project and authorized an advertisement for bids to be received at 1:30 p.m. April 20 and considered at the May 9 council meeting after review by the State of Minnesota.

Plans and specifications for the construction of trails at Prairie Elementary and from Cecilee Street have been completed by city’s consultant and approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The primary purpose of this project is to provide a trail to connect neighborhoods to the school and work.

The completion date for this project is Sept. 1. Its estimated total cost, including engineering and contingencies, is $187,000. The funding for this project includes $135,000 in federal money and $52,000 in local funds.

In a separate matter pertaining to trail work, the council authorized the advertisement for bids for Olson Park trail improvements, as well as Olson Park Pedestrian Bridge replacement and Sunset Park Boat Landing parking lot improvements.

The council also approved a resolution reestablishing precincts and polling places within the city of Worthington, as required by Minnesota statute, for the 2022 primary election and 2022 general election. Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson said the city’s ward boundaries are unchanged after completion of the 2020 Census.

Council members also approved a lease agreement with Independent School District 518 for the Middle School baseball fields. The city will assume maintenance responsibilities for the 2022 season and be reimbursed $10,100 from the school district for multiple services. The school district will provide the Agri-lime and chalk, pay one-third the cost of grass seed and fertilizer and be responsible for major repairs.

Also passed was a maintenance agreement between the city and Minnesota West to have city Public Works staff do annual maintenance on the athletic fields located on the community college’s Worthington campus. Maintenance duties will include mowing, dragging, lining, fertilizing, aerating and general cleanup for a fee of $11,567.

Additionally, the council unanimously accepted a Wold Architects/District 518 request for a conditional use permit to expand their current administrative building located at 1117 Marine Ave. The proposed expansion would add another approximately 4,419 square feet of office space.

Another agenda item considered and approved by council members was a memorandum of understanding involving Fiscal Year 2022 assistance from a regional grant program. Multiple area fire departments use a brand of radios have become obsolete for the state’s ARMER system, among other issues. New radios could cost up to $4,500 each, but Worthington Fire Chief Pat Shorter said his department wouldn’t need to spend that much. There is an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program that can be applied for that can help offset costs of the radios, but a 5% match is required.

Recently, the ARPA funding has been approved to be used as an appropriate use of funds. Each of Nobles County’s cities have been identified as eligible jurisdictions able to collectively implement the objectives and goals of the AFG program. The city of Brewster is willing to serve as the host agency for purposes of submitting the AFG application on behalf of the parties, administrating the grant and procuring and disbursing all equipment received under the AFG in the event of approval.

Grant writer Karin Anderson, who has worked with the city of Brewster in the past and has worked with regional grants, is willing to write the grant, and the fee would be $2,500. The cost would be split between all of the agreeing departments/cities, and each of the nine departments agree to be part of it, the cost would be $277.78 per department. The grant, however, would not be awarded until late this year or early next year. The 5% match would not have to be paid until grant awards are made.

Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle said he appreciated the cities' collaborative effort in working together to purchase the radios.

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