Council approves road realignment

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The New Prague City Council unanimously approved the proposed realignment of Le Sueur County Road 144 and Scott County Road 15 at its Monday meeting.

The approval came after a public hearing that drew at least 25 people, a mixture of residents from New Prague and those outside the current city limits who will be affected by the realignment.

Mayor Craig S. Sindelar said before the beginning of the hearing that the realignment had not been a quick and easy solution, but a lengthy process the city has been working on with Scott and Le Sueur counties.

The plan calls for a future alignment to create a north/south roadway east of New Prague. Scott County Road 15 will align with New Prague’s Alton Avenue, cross over Highway 13/19 and then become Le Sueur County Road 144. The plan calls for both the reconstruction of existing roads and the construction of a new roadway. Since the road will cross State Highway 13/19, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has also been involved in the project.

New Prague City Planner Renee Christianson said the route chosen helps lessen the impact on wetlands and existing homes while maintaining road compatibility and safety. The study began two years ago when Scott County conducted a study on existing County Road 15. Since it was hoped that a north/south corridor could be created, Le Sueur County was asked to join. That county then began a study. Both counties have held open houses and meetings with property owners along the areas that would be affected.

Besides Alton Avenue, another city street that will be affected will be 12th Street NE. When Scott County Road 15 is changed to align with Alton Avenue, a portion of 12th Street will be moved slightly to the south.

Also present to answer questions at the hearing were Le Sueur County Highway Engineer Darrell Pettis, Scott County Transportation Planner Craig Jensen and Mike Kotila of Short Elliott Hendrickson (S.E.H), Inc., the city’s engineering firm.

Larry Pint asked about the time frame for the project.

Christianson said the project will be done as the property in the area is developed.

Ralph Sullivan, who owns property that he currently farms in Le Sueur County east of New Prague’s city limits, expressed concerns about the proposed road and how it would affect his property. He asked why the road south of Highway 13/19 curved slightly in some places and didn’t go straight.

Kotila said that in developing the project, dozens of alternate plans were drawn up and there were meetings with property owners. In some cases, the curves go around existing wetlands. In others, a straight path would have created more challenges in lining the road up with other road accesses. Of everything considered, it was the best compromise.

In a response to a concern from Sullivan about assessments, Mayor Sindelar said they weren’t at that point for the roads.

The council unanimously approved two documents. One was a memorandum of understanding with Scott County, the other with Le Sueur County.

The first portion of the new road will be built this summer, in Le Sueur County, as part of the Eastland Addition.

Clubhouse project

The council unanimously approved a bid from Cannon Construction for work on the New Prague Golf Club’s building. The amount was $365,191, and was the lowest bid.

The work on the clubhouse will include remodeling some areas of the building and other work, such as the removal of one of the outdoor decks.

Park Board Project

The council approved a project for Philipp’s Park that calls for the a small plaza area that would contain a short wall and a seating area at the corner of Main Street and Highway 21.

Councilmember Kay Wilcox asked if the project could be done this year to commemorate New Prague’s Sesquicentennial. The Park Board was asking the city to fund the project, since it was outside of the board’s budget.

With the area near the highway, MnDOT will be supplying part of the payment. Ken Ondich, New Prague City Planner, said MnDOT will pay for $4,500 of the cost. Total cost is approximately $23,020.

New Prague City Administrator Jerry Bohnsack said it might be difficult to try and do the project this year, as it would require a large amount of time dedication from city staff. The staff has other projects it has to deal with such as street reconstruction projects.

Sindelar suggested that the project be approved, in honor of the sesquicentennial, but that the work be done next spring.

Councilmember Jim Kratochvil was for the project, but had concerns that there could be vandalism done to it.

The council unanimously approved the project for 2007, although it would be listed as an alternate project for this year.

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