The Fergus Falls City Council held a work session Monday afternoon before their regular meeting to examine the problems touching on the rehabilitation of the historic Union Avenue bridge near downtown Fergus Falls.

The structure was constructed in 1938. It carries two-way street traffic on Union Avenue over the Otter Tail Valley Railroad. Prior to the opening of Interstate 94, the bridge carried all traffic passing through the city on Highway  59.

Steve Olson, president of Olson and Nesvold Engineering, was introduced by city engineer, Brian Yavarow during the early meeting. He pointed out that the bridge is eligible for inclusion on the National Register “all by itself” and that while the bridge structure needs strengthening to handle the larger loads which are common today, the cost of the project his firm is envisioning would be approximately $1.92 million.

Mayor Ben Schierer, with the help of three people in his acquaintance, Molly Stoddard, Misty Youngbird-Prchal and Victoria McWane-Creek, official representative and chairperson of the Fergus Falls Human Rights Commission of the City of Fergus Falls (FFHRC), issued a proclamation making Oct. 14  Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The holiday celebrates the history and contributions of the indigenous peoples of North America.

Oct. 14 is also Columbus Day in the United States. The federal holiday commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas 527 years ago.

The council heard the first reading of Ordinance 87, an amendment pertaining to zoning and in a 7-1 vote approved the second reading of Ordinance 86, an amendment to rental registration.

A majority approved the 2020 fee schedule for the city and a shared wall agreement with the Fergus Falls Hockey Association, which will allow the association to construct a dryland training facility adjacent to the Fergus Falls Community Ice Arena.

Scott DeBrito appeared before the Committee of the Whole Sept. 11 to request that the city enter an agreement with the association. DeBrito told the committee at the time the association had raised approximately $435,000 in construction costs.

Lori Vanderhider of the Minnesota Department of Transportation provided the council with an update on the Trunk Highway 210 Project, which is on tap for the spring of 2020 along a stretch of two-lane highway west of Fergus Falls.

According to Vanderhider, the $8.1 million MnDOT project will be a total concrete reconstruction over at 5.4 miles stretch of highway.

As their final item of business the board accepted the donation of land in an alley off South Whitford Street which records show the city abandoned in 1903.

Consent items passed by the council included:

• A resolution approving the combining of precincts for the March 3, 2020 presidential primary and the Aug. 12, 2020 primary elections.

• The nomination of Jim Fish to serve as a city council representative on the Lakes Country Service Cooperative Board.

• An amended agreement with Greater Fergus Falls.

• A resolution to enter into a welfare-fraud agreement with Otter Tail County.

• A $10,000 facade loan from the business development fund for Signs Up North LLC.

• Combining three public improvement projects into CP 5956, the Burlington Avenue reconstruction project, ordering a preliminary engineering report and accepting Patchin Messner’s professional services proposal for appraisal services.

• A variance for 626 Sunset Drive.

• A motion to appoint Annie Deckert and Steve Rufer to the Airport Advisory Board.

• A resolution approving city budget adjustments.

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