Council OKs new lot design

ABOVE: A design by Bolton & Menk for the north parking lot at Gomsrud Park in Fairmont which the Fairmont City Council approved Thursday evening in a special meeting.

FAIRMONT– The Fairmont City Council, in conjunction with the Park Board, held a special meeting at Gomsrud Park on Thursday evening to discuss parking lot improvements. The two groups have been discussing several projects at the popular park over the past two years.

In 2022 the city of Fairmont signed a contract with SGA Group for planning, concept, schematic designs and community engagement for Gomsrud Park improvements and parking lot repairs, specifically to the north parking lot, were included in phase one of the project. However, last spring when it was discovered that dire repairs were needed to the channel wall between Hall and Budd lakes, money was set aside to finish that project first.

At the most recent Fairmont City Council meeting on May 13, four different designs, drafted by Bolton & Menk, for the north parking lot and boat ramp, were brought before the council. However, the council could not reach a consensus on the design and asked city staff to work with Bolton & Menk on another, which led to Thursday’s special meeting.

“western” align=”left”>We went back to the drawing board and sat down and looked at some different options… we came up with option number five which is the most we can do in the project scope area while also being in compliance with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources), MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System), ADA (American with Disabilities Act). A lot of people have requirement for us to make this project successful,” said Public Works Director, Matthew York.

The option five design includes a required storm water retention pond, which needs to raise the parking lot about 24 inches. It also includes 17 pull-through trailer parking spots and 14 vehicle parking spots.

“western” align=”left”>That will allow no backing up of trailers,” York said.

To the north by the water, York said the lot will be moved back about 25 feet from the waterline and a sidewalk will be put in.

“western” align=”left”>Because the parking lot is 24 inches higher than the current dock, we need to have ADA accessibility to the dock so we have a switchback as part of that and a walkway with some steps to get to the ‘Let’s Go Fishing’ dock,” York said.

After York presented the new design, he let the council know that it could decide to just fix the boat ramp with new panels. It could also do some minor asphalt repairs to the parking lot. It was also faced with another option to not take any action and work on coming up with a different plan.

Troy Nemmers, an engineer with Bolton & Menk, added that the cost for the project would come in at just over $1 million.

Council Member Britney Kawecki asked how much it would cost for solid concrete slabs for the ramp and Nemmers said it would be about $50,000 to $60,000.

“western” align=”left”>If we decid not to do the parking lot and just the slab and then we come back and do anything about the parking lot in the future, that slab will have to be completely removed and replaced and started over due to the elevation,” York said.

Council Member Michele Miller brought up some concerns about the slabs and power loading. Street and Park Superintendent, Nick Lardy, said that the issue of power loading has more to do with water levels, rather than with the type of slab.

Lardy said the current plank slabs that are at the park are from the DNR and he noted that other cities use them, too. He reiterated that the biggest problem is the end of them at low water.

“western” align=”left”>And that’s with any lake in Minnesota,” Lardy said.

Others were asked for comment and several Park Board members spoke up. Jodie Whitmore said she had some concerns with cracks and deterioration in a full concrete ramp.

“western” align=”left”>Why are we always voting against the DRN? None of us are qualified to be on the DNR right now. Listen to what they have to say,” Whitmore said.

She also took issue with the delays in the project and pointed out it will get more expensive if it continues to be put off.

Monica Shelgren also brought up that the Park Board was shown different designs for Gomsrud Park two years ago. She asked what happened to the organization that came up with the designs. York said that Bolton & Menk has continued to work with SGA Group on the design.

Kawecki said she thought that the designs SGA Group came up with were good and she pointed out that the designs were also based off of a community survey.

“western” align=”left”>Now people are upset because they’re seeing the designs… a lot of people are upset and they’re contacting us. I’m not really preferential to the DNR (slabs) or concrete ones, but when I have people calling me saying, ‘Britney, you need to look at the concrete ones,’ I have to listen to them. That’s what we were elected to do,” Kawecki said.

It was asked what the next phases of the Gomsrud Park project are. York said that the parking lot is phase one and that phase two and three would be the parking lot right outside of the shelter house and then the parking lot beyond that. He said that the north lot had to be done first but that the goal is to continue with phase two and three.

“western” align=”left”>We need to get this part of it done first because it sets the standard on where elevation is,” York said.

Council Member Randy Lubenow said that after phase one is done the city could look at any grants to help fund the next phase of the project.

“western” align=”left”>To me option five makes the best use of the space… I don’t think anyone really wants back-in and back-out spots. I think this brought all of the designs together,” Lubenow said.

Kawecki still look issue with the design and said, “Overall, the citizens aren’t happy with the design. Basically what they want to see is what we have. They want to see better access… they want to see the parking lot like what we have. They think the design is too expensive and it’s over-designed,” she said.

York said that it’s not over-designed but designed per the various requirements that need to be followed.

Lubenow made a motion to approve option five for Gomsrud Park and authorize the city to advertise for bids. The motion passed 4-1 with Kawecki opposed.


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