City OKs update for trail plans

FAIRMONT — In 2013, Fairmont adopted an active transportation plan, outlining a walking and bicycling trail system throughout the city. A recent grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Program has allowed for the plan to be updated, and the City Council heard a presentation about those changes on Monday from Wes Brown and Matt Lassonde, engineers at Bolton & Menk.

Brown said the goal of the 2017 update was to identify on-street and off-street trail conditions, gather public input and re-prioritize the ATP. Another segment of the update put together active living routes, those one- to eight-mile legs that can be used by high school harriers or other community residents who run.

Lassonde explained the types of outreach used to gather information, including a stakeholders meeting with members of the council, Project 1590 and Fairmont Park Board. An online open house offered residents the opportunity to express concerns or give general comments about the ATP.

“We did have concerns, but generally people applauded the program,” Lassonde said.

The project most desired by respondents was a Knollwood Drive connection to Cedar Creek Park. Others receiving frequent mention were a loop around the western portion of the community and a trail to and around the soccer complex. The public input resulted in seven changes made to the final map.

The updated ATP broke down trail expansion into three segments: short term, to be completed within the next 10 years; long term, to be done in 10-20 years; and those projects to be done after 2038. The cost estimates for construction of the three segments were $1.7 million, $2.3 million and $4.6 million, respectively.

“We tried to base this from feedback from the community and what they wanted to see,” Lassonde said. “That’s not to say that every project on this list needs to be constructed, but it can be used for future prioritization.”

Council members brought up the subject of signage for the trails. Councilman Tom Hawkins said he drove around town one afternoon specifically looking for trail signs but found only three. Troy Nemmers, city engineer/public works director, said there are about 55 bike route signs around the city.

“Minnesota law does allow bike traffic on roadways without any signage,” Brown said. “There are no specific requirements, but there are some guidelines. Signage and striping would be left up to the city’s discretion.”

The council could adopt the updated ATP, make adjustments in the plan or table the issue. The council unanimously approved the update, citing its intent to serve as a guideline for future trail projects.

Mayor Debbie Foster spoke of the importance and popularity of the trails.

“Everyone can use them, no matter your financial background,” she said.

In other business, the council:

o Approved the preliminary and final plat of the Kahler addition, which will allow Doug and Diana Kahler to donate a strip of land on Winnebago Avenue for the new Martin County Veterans Memorial. The action was required because the property was less than 5 acres.

o Passed a resolution allowing for three special assessment deferrals: Marilyn Wolter of 900 Cardinal St., age deferment, $5,040.36; Orel Barker with property at 1691 N. State St., undeveloped property deferment, $54,516; Howard Simmering Trust with property at 1700 N. North Ave., undeveloped property deferment, $32,320.

o Heard a report from Police Chief Mike Hunter on a body worn camera policy. No one offered comment during open discussion. Hunter said he will be reviewing public comments from the department’s website before drafting a final policy and purchasing the cameras in December. Officers will use the cameras to supplement documentation of incidents.

o Approved a solicitor’s license for American Exteriors to begin a door-to-door campaign to offer residents information about the windows and siding the company sells.

o Designated the Knights of Columbus Hall as the official 2018 polling place for the city, a resolution required by recent legislative action.