Joe France, from the Hinckley-Finlayson School District, was present at the September regular Hinckley City Council meeting last week. He was requesting right-of-way (ROW) access for district property on Brennan Ave. near Flagstad Field. There is currently a house and garage on the former Marudas property that is in the process of being moved. The district is planning to use the property for parking and a concession area for the softball field. Currently there are sewer and water utilities installed within the Brennan Ave. ROW, which terminates at private property to the south.
According to France, the school plans to put a wall down the center of the remaining basement area, fill in the west half and bring it up to grade. They would then build two handicap accessible bathrooms and a concession stand.
The plans include taking out the existing driveway approach on the west side, filling it in with gravel/class five and making a one-way access to the parking area. France explained that taking out that approach would keep people from using it as a turnaround, which could block the proposed handicap parking area. They would like to turn Brennan Ave. into a one-way street, so it would be one way into the parking and one way out.
Mayor Don Zeman brought up the fact that when this project was originally brought to council, the district said they were going to make a bus lane along Second Street to get the busses off of Blair Ave. Currently, the busses park close together in a formation that blocks Blair Ave. off from both directions. France said he wasn't sure when that plan changed, but they had decided to make it a parking lot and turnaround area for parents.
"They were going to look for a safe way of loading and unloading busses instead of plugging up Blair Ave.," said Zeman.
City Administrator Kyle Morell said he would "have a conversation with the district about how much longer we are going to allow them to take up the whole road if that is a concern for council."
Council member Dave Hopkins said, "It's definitely a concern. I was hoping they would be able to do something on the south side. I don't like seeing Blair blocked off like that. It's not a good thing." Zeman said that was why they brought it up a while ago, in order to get a resolution to the problem.
Morell said he would set up a meeting with the superintendent to see if they could address the issue. Hopkins said he would like to hold the ROW decision as leverage to see what could be done to resolve this issue. "I'm disappointed that the whole project didn't stay (moving) forward like we had agreed upon earlier...because we want those busses off Blair Ave and we have been working with them, but every time it comes around, those things keep getting kicked off," he said.
Westrum said he too would like to hear some resolution on the Blair Ave. issue before approving the ROW request. Morell told the council, when he met with the district originally, he was under the impression that it was a temporary solution. "That was three years ago," he said.
The Council decided to table the subject until they have had a meeting with the district.
The City is currently test-driving a 2014 Bobcat skid steer. The unit is similar in size to the one they currently have, but is 14 years newer and has about 200 hours. The price of the unit is $45,000, plus the extra attachments the city would purchase, including a back-up camera for blind spots and a safety lighting package. They would add a 14-pin connection so the older attachments would work on the new machine. Money has been set aside in the equipment fund, which they could use to pay for it.
Motion by Frank, second by Westrum, to purchase the skid steer.