The Akeley City Council unanimously approved going ahead with the realignment at the intersection of Hwy. 34 and Hwy. 64 during the 2023 road construction project instead of a roundabout, after a lengthy discussion at their June 10 meeting.

“Weirdly enough, I had a lot of people tell me they were in favor of the roundabout after the last meeting,” council member Billy Krotzer said. “They’ve gotten used to it in Park Rapids and are warming up to the idea.”

Council member Bobbie Wosika said the gentleman with the antique shop at the corner would lose all of his customer parking under the roundabout, but would keep some spots with the alternative route.

“Most people I talk to are not in favor of the roundabout,” Riggs said. “I think the realignment would have better traffic flow.

“I think the alternative route looks better because it keeps that parking,” council member Nathan George said. “I don’t think a painted roundabout would be effective. I think the realignment is the way to go.”

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A drawing of the new realignment plan will be available at city hall.

They heard an update from Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager Laura Hadrava on the 2023 road paving project.

“I am worried about losing business during that summer season,” Wosika said.

Council member Dan Riggs asked why this project is necessary.

“The pavement is falling apart and the storm sewer is from the 1950s I believe,” Hadrava said. Hadrava said the designers revised the alternative route plan to leave a couple of spaces by the antique store closest to the intersection on Hwy. 34 by moving the sidewalk closer to the curb and making parking narrower. There would be no parking at that shop under the roundabout plan. Hadrava said Cole Nelson will be taking over as project manager.

The next step in design will be looking at sidewalks and other smaller pieces of the project.

In other action, the council:

  • Heard a traffic stop by Police Chief Jimmy Hansen recently revealed quite a bit of meth in the vehicle. He reported that a search warrant in city limits took more meth out of town. “Now it’s up to the courts and judges to give the consequences to these people for what they’ve done to our city and the people in our city,” he said.

  • Heard the bathroom at Paul’s Patio will open for public use as soon as paper towel dispensers, hand soaps and sanitizers, along with protective gear for the employees are obtained. City employees will sterilize the facility in the morning and evening. The goal is to have this in place by June 18 as a graduation party is scheduled to use the space at Paul’s Patio this weekend.

  • Heard the city is still waiting for a response from Arvig regarding additional cameras at the city park. Cameras are needed in areas near the maintenance shop and recycling bins as well. Work on cameras at the city park may have to wait until the end of the season. The council approved installing cameras in the shop and recycling areas at a cost of approximately $700.

  • Heard campers at the park will continue to be required to sign a waiver about COVID-19. It was reported that the campground has been full.

  • Renewed the county attorney contract at a cost of $250 per case from the previous $200 per case.

  • Set a special council meeting for the audit review and to make a decision regarding the Akeley Community Project Committee’s request for approval for Task Order number 2 with Moore Engineering for funding to move forward with the parks project for 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 22 via Zoom.

  • Approved not waiving the city’s monetary limits for tort liability coverage, as recommended.

  • Approved returning to in-person meetings in July with social distancing rules in effect so seating for the public is six feet apart and council members are also seated six feet apart.

  • Heard employee evaluations will be at the next regular meeting which is scheduled for 6 p.m Wednesday, July 8 at city hall.