FAIRMONT - Fairmont City Council is hoping a grant through Safe Routes to School will help create just that.
On Monday, the council agreed to use $32,000 of a $124,000 grant to hire Bolton & Menk to design and oversee the following improvements for 2012:
o Filling a gap in the sidewalk system along South Orient Street from Adams Avenue to Fairmont Elementary School;
o Improving existing pedestrian crossings on Grant, South Orient and State streets between Blue Earth Avenue and State Street;
o Creating a pedestrian median on State Street where it intersects with South Orient, so children can safely pause on the island when crossing State Street.
Councilman Darin Rahm asked if the city could also reduce speed limits from 40 mph on State Street.
It wouldn't be easy, according to City Administrator Jim Zarling. Minnesota Department of Transportation would have to conduct a traffic study, which could result in an even higher speed limit.
"It practically takes an act of Congress to change a speed limit in the state of Minnesota," said Councilman Joe Kallemeyn, reminding his colleagues of when the council asked the state to change the speed limit on Highway 15 near Fairmont High School.
One improvement planned through the Safe Routes to School grant should make a difference on busy State Street traffic, when a constantly flashing pedestrian crossing sign is upgraded to light up only when a pedestrian is actually crossing, said Public Works Director Troy Nemmers.
In other business, the council:
o Proclaimed October "International Walk to School Month" in the city of Fairmont.
o Approved the appointment of Robert Bartingale, administrator at Fairmont's Mayo Clinic Health System site, to the Fairmont Economic Development Authority.
o Approved a public hearing for Oct. 25 to rezone property on the 600 block of Pioneer Drive from R-3 Multi Family Residential District and B-3 General Business District to a B-1 Neighborhood Business District. Brian Nelson is acquiring the property for a residence and potential "water-oriented business."
o Approved a public hearing for Oct. 24 to rezone property on the 1200 block of Albion Avenue from R-1 Single Family Residential to a B-1 Neighborhood Business District. The applicant is Jeff Greischar, who is seeking more flexibility in potential redevelopment projects.
o Approved a conditional use permit for Renewable Energy SD to install three 189-foot wind turbines at 2320 Lake Avenue, where Dick Gerhardt has an office building. The structures will generate only 39 kilowatts.
o Approved a request to purchase and install four Beyond the Yellow Ribbon signs at the entrances to Fairmont. Each sign costs $63.
o Approved a low bid of $14,500 from Pladson Environmental of Minneapolis to demolish the house and garage at 415 Webster St. The demolition is not expected to take place until December or January.
o Approved an agreement with the Department of Transportation for a grant to replace the fueling pad at the airport. The cost should be about $80,000, with the federal government paying for 95 percent of the project and the city responsible for the remaining $4,000.
o Approved a state grant agreement for airport maintenance and operation.
o Approved Bolton & Menk for a five-year airport engineering services contract.