ALEXANDRIA — An idea to apply for a state grant to build four new tennis courts at Dean Melton/Fillmore Park in Alexandria was filed Monday due to parking issues.
Parks Superintendent Bill Thoennes, with the support of the city’s parks board, petitioned the Alexandria City Council for approval to apply for an outdoor recreation grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. If approved, the grant would have provided $272,855 in public funds and the city would have matched $272,855.
Council member Roger Thalman said concerns had been raised about parking. More stalls would have had to be added to accommodate the courts, an additional cost estimated between $100,000 and $200,000.
Council member Bill Franzen made a motion to apply for the grant and it was unanimously approved.
Mayor Bobbie Osterberg said the deadline for applying for the grant is March 31, so the city will now have to wait until next year to apply.
Council members thanked the Park Board and members of the Alexandria Tennis Association for their work. They encouraged them to submit a grant application next year that would incorporate a “more comprehensive project”.
The courts would have been up to United States Tennis Association standards, including materials, gates and fencing, a staging area, seating and a small bridge to connect to an existing parking lot, Thoennes noted in the request for grant.
Tennis courts are in high demand, according to Thoennes.
“The Alexandria area does not currently have any tennis courts in a public park,” Thoennes noted in the application. “The city has lost several tennis courts in recent years. This included courts near the hospital on land that was sold. It also included City Park as the city converted them exclusively to pickleball courts.
Although school grounds are available, they have limited use for the general public as they are often used for tournaments, training, lessons, leagues and youth camps, Thoennes added.
Tennis is a vibrant and growing sport in Alexandria and many residents are looking and expecting to find housing, Thoennes noted.
“As Alexandria continues to grow and aims to be an attractive destination for all ages to live, work and play, the tennis courts in a public park are a vital asset to the region,” Thoennes wrote in the application.
Paramedic Agreement Approved
Council approved Police Chief Scott Kent’s request to sign a service agreement between the North Memorial Paramedic Program and the city.
Police and paramedics have been working on the new partnership for about a year. It’s called ACCESS, an acronym for “A Community Collaboration of Enhanced Support Strategies”. Its mission is to empower residents to achieve their best in health, safety and well-being by providing a bridge to other community partners.
They provided the council with an example of how law enforcement and paramedics helped a young woman, who was living in her car, find housing, transportation and an education. Another example was helping a bilateral amputee find social support, food, economic stability, access to health care, education and other needs.
Those involved in the program described their efforts as “connecting the dots” between those who need the services with the local resources that are available.
The police department’s budget includes $50,000 for the paramedic program.
Paramedics will provide a variety of medical and support services – health assessments, chronic disease monitoring and education, medication compliance, immunizations and vaccinations, lab sample collection, hospital discharge follow-up care and other care transitions, connection to community resources, coordination with home care providers, wound care, health coaching, advance care planning, motivational talks, home safety and more.
Under the agreement, the city agreed to pay North Memorial a fee of $85.28 per hour for each paramedic providing service. North Memorial reserves the right to increase the rate by up to 3% each year.
Neighborhood boundaries to be changed
The council gave final approval to change the boundaries of the wards represented by the five members of the city council.
State law requires that congressional, legislative, county, and city electoral district boundaries be redrawn every 10 years after the census.
The goal is to have roughly the same number of voters in each ward. City planner Mike Weber said that since the 2020 census pegged Alexandria’s population at 14,335, the ideal goal would be to have 2,867 residents in each of the five wards. He said the limits approved at the meeting are very close to that mark.
The new map showing the neighborhoods is on the city’s website, https://alexandriamn.city.
In a related action, the council designated the polling places for the city’s constituencies:
- Ward I Lake Community Church (490 Voyager Drive).
- Ward II Reach Church (1310 North Nokomis).
- Ward III New Life Christian Church (1910 County Road 82 SE).
- Ward IV Church of St. Mary’s (420 Irving Street).
- Alexandria Ward V City Hall (704 Broadway).
Liquor store loans have been repaid
The council agreed to repay the loans for the two city-owned liquor stores that total $191,685.
The liquor stores used the city’s revolving loan funds to take out the loans, which were used for sidewalk improvements, energy conservation projects and building renovations. The loans were contracted in 2009, 2017 and 2019.
Stores’ cash positions will allow loans to be repaid without disrupting the cash flow they need to operate, according to city chief financial officer Jane Blade.
Downtown Liquor’s cash balances are $412,497 and Plaza Liquor has a balance of $782,503.
Shoreland Change Gets Final Approval
The council has given final approval to amend the City Shoreline Ordinance to create an overlay district for an unnamed basin near County Road 46 near Pilot Truck Stop.
The new layout will allow the city to expand its industrial park area.
The change will also increase minimum lot sizes for industrial uses and provide more restrictive provisions for impervious surfaces, private structure setbacks and native grass buffers.
Although the property, which is between 400 and 450 acres, is considered a public lake, it is more of a wetland going through a drying cycle because there is no water in it.