Peterson is making progress on community improvements

A new presentation of the proposed Peterson campground and park plans.
photo submitted

The Peterson Council meeting on April 13 included discussions on many of the same issues discussed in March, but the city is getting closer to achieving some long-awaited goals.

A new welcome sign for the Highway 16 entrance into the city was ordered. It was specifically designed to match the recent sign on the Root River State Trail, but on a much larger scale. The composite maroon and gold shield will bring a fresh welcome to residents and visitors along with the proposed landscape changes. Steel is also being made for sign supports and the council is looking for backfill soil, whether from the county or elsewhere, to build up the area ahead of the sign and landscaping installation.

The city will work with the Sentenced to Serve (STS) program to remove the current signs and install the new elements. It was recommended that the sign be dismantled soon when it fits into the STS plan to make room for the infill. This also allows for installation and good curing time for concrete where the sign will be anchored.

The shield is expected to be delivered in early June. The plan is to complete as much of the project as possible before the Gammel Dag city celebrations in mid-June.

Thanks to the work of Councilmen Tracy Seelbinder and Chris Stenzel, plans for a complete makeover of the city’s campground and park are also moving forward. The original drawings of the proposed plans have been significantly improved after the site survey has taken place.

The preliminary plans now envisage up to nine parking spaces west of the main road and a further 16 parking spaces in the curve of the road north of the pavilion building. A sidewalk would connect the second parking space to the building, and an additional three disabled parking spaces and an unloading area would be immediately northwest of the building, also connected by a sidewalk. New toilets and showers would be installed at the east end of the building. The intent is to clean up congested parking lots and keep them a safe distance from the playground.

Several campgrounds would remain in the current location, secured to the wooded area adjacent to the Root River State Trail, but four new sites would be created just behind the bend in the road in the area that formerly included the Rushford-Peterson Middle School football field. These premium spots would be 32 feet long and angled southeast to northwest. “The aim of the campers is to push the noise into the valley and not into the neighboring houses and the church,” explains Stenzel.

“We were able to reduce the road construction work to a minimum,” adds Seelbinder. “We need to bring sewage and water back there to reach new spaces. Hopefully we can start planting trees and putting up some screens.”

Seelbinder also noted that he would be working this week to find grants for the project. There is a certain spending cushion in the Campground Fund. “Certainly that should be part of it,” remarked Councilor Gail Boyum.

The council thanked them for the work they have done so far. “It’s looking pretty good,” said Mayor Tim Hallum.

In other news, the city has sent out letters/shutdown notices to 10 past-due utility account holders. If this is not fixed, the electricity meters will be pulled on May 2nd. Typically at least half or more come forward to discuss the issue with the city and set up payment plans. Those receiving notices are encouraged to do so.

During the public statement, new property owners Scott and Deanna Smith introduced themselves to the council. The Minneapolis couple bought the former RP Middle School building and intend to convert it into their home as well as the base for their remodeling business and some storage space.

“We’re really enjoying it,” said Scott Smith. “We love the community. Everyone was so hospitable and that was the best thing: the people. It’s really different.”

“We can’t wait to get it working again,” he continued. “We have our remodeling business and would like to move it here. The most surprising thing is that we fell in love with the area.”

The next regular council meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 11, at 6 p.m. in the town hall. The public is encouraged to participate.

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