September 13, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Managing future traffic

Two yield signs to be installed at Authors Addition intersection
Car queue in the bad traffic road. Selective focus.
Car queue in the bad traffic road. Selective focus.
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By BEN SONNEK | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

With the Authors Addition residential expansion project wrapping up for the year and the intersection of Hendryx Street, Halfaday Drive and Hickman Drive being realigned, Sauk Centre will be regulating the intersection’s traffic flow with yield signs while keeping stop signs on the table for the future if they are needed.

During their Sept. 6 meeting at Sauk Centre City Hall, the Sauk Centre City Council considered a number of signage options for the Hendryx-Halfaday-Hickman intersection while its realignment – and the construction of Halfaday Drive itself – nears completion. Options presented to the council included leaving the intersection uncontrolled, adding yield signs or stop signs on Halfaday Drive and Hendryx Street, making the intersection an all-way stop or making it a three-way stop with no sign on northeast-bound Hickman Drive.

Initially, Sauk Centre Mayor Warren Stone was in favor of making the intersection an all-way stop.

“If we go to the three-way stop … the minute they come to that stop, the (drivers) coming from the east are probably going to anticipate they’re going to turn right, and then they go straight and you’ve got a problem,” Stone said. “To me, a four-way stop would make more sense.”

Councilmember Joe Fuechtmann believed an all-way stop was excessive for the intersection.

“I don’t think the amount of housing and traffic through there will necessitate it,” Fuechtmann said. “I look at the other intersections in this community that don’t have four-way stops. … I think a two-way stop makes more sense there.”

Stone and Fuechtmann have lived in the Hendryx Street area.

Stone was open to Fuechtmann’s suggestion, and councilmember Heidi Leach, with the agreement of Sauk Centre Police Department Chief Bryon Friedrichs, proposed dialing back the measure further by putting yield signs instead of stop signs on Hendryx Street and Halfaday Drive. A motion for that plan was approved, although the city advised the SCPD to watch that intersection in the coming years in case traffic problems warrant different signage.

The council also approved CenterPoint Energy gas installations for Authors Addition and the Sauk Centre South Industrial Park. The city’s share of the cost for the industrial park was about $14,000, based on the number of feet the gas mains were run. It was unclear, at the meeting, what the city’s share of the cost would be for the Authors Addition gas mains, but it will have less footage than the industrial park and will likely cost less.

City engineer Keith Yapp reported, with the Sept. 7 installation of a lift station component, the Sauk Centre South Industrial Park is completed. He also said sidewalks for Authors Addition would be completed after CenterPoint Energy gas lines were installed.

Other city council news:

– City Administrator Vicki Willer updated the council on their residential rental license progress. As of the meeting, 105 property owners had applied for licenses for 386 rental units – 29 apartment buildings, 10 duplexes, 63 houses and three townhome buildings. Fifty-one applications for 181 units have been completed with licenses issued, 21 inspections are in progress or scheduled and 33 inspections have yet to be scheduled. Aug. 31 was the application deadline. About 30 owners with 53 residences have still not applied, although six are awaiting verification on whether they are still a rental, two are sending in applications and five are changing ownership and their new owners are planning to apply.

– The replica Sinclair Lewis Park fountain statue is under construction and should be in Sauk Centre by Christmas. After it is painted, it is expected to be installed in the park spring 2024.

– Nature Energy, the Denmark-based company interested in establishing a biogas facility in Sauk Centre, has announced they are pausing their development plans in the United States.

– Minnesota statute now allows cities to certify delinquent fire service bills to property taxes where the fire occurred within the city’s fire service area. The city has had to write off the bad debt in previous years, but with the council’s general approval, the city is looking to add language to the city code for when a charge remains unpaid 30 days after the notice of delinquency is sent, allowing the city to certify the unpaid fire bills to the county auditor on or before Oct. 15 each year in which the services’ recipient owns real property for collection with taxes. The ordinance will be developed and a public hearing set, which will include townships where the city has service contracts.

– Approved the resignation of Mike Anderson from the Sauk Centre Fire Department, effective Aug. 31. Anderson had been with the SCFD since Nov. 16, 2016.

– Approved the appointment of Lateshia Harden as a part-time patrol officer with the SCPD. Her appointment will help fill the positions of two part-time patrol officers who have decided to no longer take calls with Sauk Centre.

– Approved a five-year agreement with Axon Enterprise to purchase equipment – including body cameras, in-squad cameras and stun guns – for the SCPD, while also providing ongoing maintenance, support and cloud storage. Along with upfront costs and the ongoing maintenance agreement, the cloud storage fee totals about $153,000.

– Approved the city’s preliminary 2024 budget of $11,066,679.35 and a preliminary 2024 levy of $2,508,628.

– Based on complaints from neighbors of a property on the corner of Ash Street South and Eighth Street South, the city approved ordering an abatement of city code nuisance violations.

– Approved setting the Sinclair Lewis Campground’s 2024 seasonal camping rate at $2,700, an 8% increase from 2023 and an 80% increase from $1,500 in 2014.

– Approved the purchase of a 2017 Toro Sand Pro from Country Club Landscaping for $14,995, plus an estimated $650 in shipping.

– Approved the following contributions: $149.16 from the Men’s Card Playing Group for the Sauk Centre Senior Center; $300 from Carol and Ronald Funk for the SCSC; from Minnesota National Bank $333 for the SCPD, $333 for the SCFD and $333 for the Sauk Centre Ambulance Service; and from Mike and Nancy Noe, $100 for the SCPD, $100 for the SCFD and $100 for the SCAS.

The next city council meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20.


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