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Hastings City Council briefs: Highway 316 project receives support

Highway 316 project

City Council unanimously voted to support the recommended project plans from the Minnesota Department of Transportation regarding Highway 316.

Since February, MnDOT has worked with city officials and residents to discuss concerns about the current Highway 316 corridor and ways to improve it.

Key concerns that came out of the discussions were the ability to access the highway, especially in making left turns, lack of pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, and traffic speeds.

The plan proposed by MnDOT during Monday's meeting included roundabouts at Spiral Boulevard, as well as Tiffany and Tuttle drives. The introduction of roundabouts, according to MnDOT, would help reduce speeds, increase pedestrian safety and better control traffic through the area.

Bike and pedestrian trails on both sides of the highway and a center median are also in the plans. The median would help pedestrian safety by providing a refuge for bikers and pedestrians crossing the street.

The estimated costs for the new design ranges from $4.5 million to $5.6 million, and the project is scheduled to begin in 2021 as MnDOT's State Transportation Improvement Program.

New First Street West parking restrictions

Council passed a resolution to modify parking restrictions on a portion of First Street West between Farm and Fraiser streets.

The section of the street, along Regina Hospital, will now allow parking with a max of 24 hours per existing ordinances. The strip previously didn't allow any parking.

The issue came before the council after resident complaints on Olive Street about sightline issues and problems with backing out of the driveway. Police spoke with management from the Regina Senior Living center, asking them to put pressure on employees to park in their designated lot. These attempts were unsuccessful.

The new area will offer employees closer parking than the employee parking lot and the available parking on Olive Street. The new parking area should allow for nine or 10 cars to be parked. First Street West is wide enough to allow on-street parking and will not disrupt sight lines from exiting driveways from the hospital or the senior living complex.

FRA pension increase

City Council approved an increase in the Fire Relief Association pensions.

The annual lump sum will increase to $300 per year of service up to $6,400. Previously, the annual lump sum amount was $6,100 for those serving 20 years or more.

There must be a 10 percent surplus to seek a benefit increase. The increase would reduce the surplus from 38 to 31 percent.

City administrator resignation and process

Council accepted the resignation of City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee and considered the process to fill the position.

The model presented at the meeting, which will act as a guideline for the council during the process, estimates the process to start by the end of December and end sometime in March.

The hiring process is not cemented to the timeline, Councilman Trevor Lund said, stating if the right person doesn't come around at first then the council will not rush to fill the position.

Water analysis update

Public Works Director Nick Egger updated the council on the feasibility study being done on the city's water system, stating that there is "still a little bit more work" that needs to be done before they know the final results.

Egger said that the final version of the results should come in a couple of weeks, and that there will most likely be a workshop coming in January.

Public hearing on 2019 budget

The council held a "Truth in Taxation" public hearing on the 2019 city budget. No one in the audience spoke on the issue.

No action will be taken on next year's budget until the Dec. 17 City Council meeting.

The proposed budget for 2019 is available at hastingsmn.gov.