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Main Avenue streetscapes outlined

The Christmas tree location on Main Avenue will be in front of Pioneer Park after the reconstruction project this summer.

The Park Rapids City Council made final streetscape decisions Tuesday night. The downtown street and utility reconstruction project is nearing, with construction slated to begin this summer.

Councilmember Sue Tomte liked the idea of moving the tree because it would create a unique atmosphere around Pioneer Park. Councilmember Paul Utke agreed, reasoning if the tree stayed where it is now, at the north end of the block between Second and Third Streets, the nodes at the intersection could make it too crowded to drive by easily.

An electrical receptacle will also be worked into the plans so a cord won't need to be strung across the street.

Other streetscape decisions included:

-Adding low-tech drip lines to light poles to use when watering hanging baskets.

Business owner Cynthia Jones, speaking on behalf of the Downtown Business Association, said many of the business owners want to have hanging baskets but it has been difficult keeping them watered.

David Collins, executive director of the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission, said Red Wing uses a simple system using drip lines. A golf cart with a water tank is driven up and down the street as the hanging baskets are watered.

The council decided not to have an automated system because there could be more maintenance involved.

Mayor Nancy Carroll suggested looking into the possibility of having Development Achievement Center clients do the watering.

-Adding pavement markings to delineate parking south of Fifth Street.

Public Works director Scott Burlingame said there would be an extra ongoing maintenance expense each year if the city decided to add pavement markings on the southern part of Main.

The council decided it would be clearer for drivers to see where they should park and agreed to add pavement markings.

City engineer Jon Olson said this would add about $5,000 to the project.

-Adding an electrical receptacle at each tree from First to Fifth Streets. This would allow for decorations to be plugged in more easily and eliminate using lengthy extension cords.

The cost would be between $5,000 and $10,000 for 28 receptacles, according to figures provided by Olson.

-Having grates surrounded by concrete around the trees in downtown rather than grass.

City staff was opposed to grass on the nodes and boulevards because it would require a lot of maintenance because of foot traffic, salt in the winter, weeds and garbage. Grates would have minimal maintenance, Olson said.

-Installing test granite inlays at two corners. Some downtown business owners had discussed adding granite inlays that feature different area lakes at each corner in the first four blocks of Main.

Collins said he would prefer installing all the inlays at once because it might not happen later.

City administrator Bill Smith said he had received a number of comments about the inlays and there was no consensus. Some people thought there would be maintenance issues, he said. He suggested installing the test inlays as a compromise.

The council asked if a sample could be looked at because this is an untested product in Park Rapids. Collins said he thought that could be arranged.

Olson took the council's latest recommendations and will add them to the bidding documents. He said the bidding documents should be ready by the council's next meeting, Feb. 9.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561