Street closure request approved, with modification

Litchfield City Council approved a street closure request from the Litchfield Fire Department during its meeting May 17, but the area of closure was altered slightly after some council members expressed concerns.

The fire department sought to close North Gilman Avenue from Sixth Street to the Litchfield Civic Arena parking lot entrance during Watercade weekend, July 9-11. The department runs a Watercade softball tournament at the VFW fields on the east side of Gilman.

The City Council granted a street closure last summer for the fire department’s softball tournament, which was one of the few Watercade events that happened, due to the pandemic. That closure allowed for food trucks to be set up, and eliminated potential pedestrian-car conflicts in the area, which becomes quite busy during the tournament as players and spectators cross from the parking lot on the west side of Gilman to the softball fields on the east.

While City Council members voiced support for the tournament and for a street closure, a few also voiced concern about closing such a large portion of Gilman, which could create a problem for other Watercade activities, such as the tennis tournament, whose players and fans also use the parking lot.

In the end the Council modified the closure to just the area of the softball fields, which would leave open entrance/exits to the Gilman parking lot at both the north and south ends of the lot.

MnDOT agreement receives approval

City Council approved an agreement with Minnesota Department of Transportation as part of work to be done on the Sibley Avenue crosswalk at Lake Ripley Elementary School.

The city’s street department will install a flashing crosswalk beacon at the site, and the city will take on responsibility for maintaining the crosswalk and beacon.

The crosswalk is likely to have greater use in the future as the sidewalk on the east side of Sibley Avenue South is completed, allowing for better pedestrian access.

Bus stop benches get OK

More benches are coming to downtown Litchfield.

The City Council approved a request from the Litchfield Downtown Council for two additional benches. The additions were requested by CCT Bus staff, who wanted benches at bus pickup sites in the downtown.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved the purchase and placement of nine benches in the historic downtown area.

CCT buses can’t stop on Sibley Avenue, so pickup spots just off “main street” at Second Street and Marshall Avenue, and Third Street and Marshall Avenue are used. Benches will be added to these spots.

In a letter to the City Council, the Litchfield Downtown Council’s Board of Directors said that donations to their organization have specified they were for benches, so the organization will pay for the two additional “bus stop” benches.

One of the benches will include a donor plate listing the names of all donors to the bench project, while the other bench will be marked with the Litchfield Downtown Council clock logo, name and purpose of the LDC.

Lions shelter donation approved

Litchfield City Council agreed to a $2,000 donation for upgrades at the Lions Club shelter on Pleasure Drive on Lake Ripley.

The donation is almost half the estimated cost of $4,180.42 to replace 15 corrugated glass windows on the shelter with polycarbonate glass that is sturdier and more transparent, according to a letter from Lions Club shelter committee Chairman Dave Solbrack.

The Lions Club will pay the remaining $2,180.42.

Capital Improvement Plan review, prioritization

City Council members took a look into the city’s future, and it could be, well, expensive.

City Administrator David Cziok presented the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, which acts as a kind of road map for investment in future improvements, during the May 17 meeting. The list of 28 items, ranging from wastewater plant improvements to the much-discussed wellness/recreation center, to park upgrades, totals about $70 million. There are nine other items that could be on the list.

City staff met and prioritized the CIP, Cziok told the City Council, and he asked that the City Council offer its own prioritized list.

City Council members approved a motion to have each of them review the nine items not on the staff’s priority list and rank those by June 1.

— Brent Schacherer, general manager