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Pine Island asks MnDOT to change Elk Run agreement

PINE ISLAND — The Pine Island City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night asking the Minnesota Department of Transportation to accept several changes to its agreement concerning the Elk Run interchange and development.

The resolution asks MnDOT to get an appraisal for the 260 acres of right-of-way property purchased by the city for the road project. If that appraisal comes to less than $3.65 million — the amount the city would owe MnDOT in the event it does not meet the Elk Run jobs goals — Pine Island has asked MnDOT to release the city of responsibility for any shortage.

Mayor Rod Steele has said the $3.65 million obligation to the state over Elk Run is a financial burden hanging over the city and preventing it from pursuing other projects.

"Our next step is that $3.65 million," Steele said. "We really have to move forward, and we're being held back by that commitment."

In exchange for relief on the Elk Run job commitments burden, the resolution makes several commitments to MnDOT: The city promises assistance in closing the Highway 52 crossover at the uncontrolled access point at North Main, asks that the Highway 52 southbound off ramp at North Main Street remains open and promises the city will construct a roundabout on the east side of Goodhue County Road 11 and U.S. 52.


The city also asks that MnDOT maintain the direct access to U.S. 52 at 520th Street until the east frontage road to Goodhue 11 is finished. Finally, the city asks that the on and off ramps from U.S. 52 to Goodhue 11 remain open once a northern interchange near the current North Main Street crossover is constructed.

The city also asked the state to release the city of any penalties related to job creation at Elk Run.

Steele reminded the board that the requests to MnDOT are just that, requests. MnDOT is under no obligation to alter its agreement, though during a special city council meeting last week, MnDOT project manager Terry Ward said he was willing to work as a partner with Pine Island.

Councilman Erik Diskerud said the city needed to at least ask the state for concessions.

In other action

The council approved the construction of a columbarium — an above-ground storage for cremation urns — at the Pine Island Cemetery. The plan approved Tuesday is for the first of three columbaria and will include a cross-shaped cement slab and a memorial for veterans totaling a cost of about $50,000.

Finally, the park board will open an account at a local bank to accept donations for improvements to the swimming pool. The hope is to put a referendum before the public some time in 2013.

Brian Todd is a freelance writer.

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