Rental space likely a no-go for new liquor store

MARSHALL – Plans for a new municipal liquor store in Marshall will likely not include space to lease to other businesses, after a Marshall City Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig updated council members on the planning process for the liquor store during city staff reports at the meeting. Martig said after a council work session last week, he had tried to take into account some of the council members’ feedback on building configurations for the store.

At the work session, council members had gotten a look at two possible building configurations for a new liquor store. One included adjacent building space that could be leased out to a business like a specialty foods store. A Marshall business owner also came forward expressing an interest in being the city’s tenant in that arrangement. However, council members had a mixed response to the proposal. Mike Boedigheimer and Glenn Bayerkohler in particular said they were against the city going into the landlord business.

Other council members had asked if there were alternatives to the city owning the rental space, like a partnership with a private owner.

Martig said he researched the possibility of an alternative to a city-owned rental space. However, options like a private partnership could cause problems for the city, like not being able to have control over tenants. Unless council members said otherwise, Martig said he wasn’t recommending the city pursue a rental space in the liquor store design.

Council member Boedigheimer said he was glad that the recommended design would stay a “free-standing” liquor store.

In other business Tuesday night, the council took action on an early stage in the development of a pedestrian overpass and traffic safety measures at the intersection of Saratoga Street and Minnesota Highway 23. Council members voted to approve an agreement for soil boring and testing services at the intersection. Plans for the 23/Saratoga project include construction of a pedestrian overpass on Saratoga Street and islands and turn lanes for a “limited conflict intersection” on Minnesota Highway 23.

A limited conflict intersection is designed to improve safety by cutting down on the number of opposing lanes of traffic drivers have to cross. Drivers making left turns onto or off of 23 would merge into turn lanes and use a designated U-turn lane, instead crossing a divided intersection. Drivers on Saratoga Street wanting to cross the highway would also have to use the U-turns, going down and around the intersection to return to Saratoga Street.

Boedigheimer asked Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson if the Minnesota Department of Transportation already had soil data from that area. Olson replied that MnDOT didn’t have the kind of information the project would need.

“In this area, the soil conditions are very site-specific,” Olson said. In addition, he said MnDOT soil samples for the highway wouldn’t have gone as deep as the city needs to plan for the overpass’ piers.

Council members also approved the purchase of a new scoreboard for Legion Field. Marshall Parks Superintendent Preston Stensrud said the city wanted to purchase a 36-foot LED scoreboard from Daktronics to replace the current scoreboard, which uses incandescent light bulbs. Stensrud said the existing scoreboard has aged to the point where it’s harder to find replacement parts. Replacing the board’s 550 incandescent bulbs every two years is also more costly and time-consuming than using an LED display, he said.

Olson said the estimated purchase price for the Daktronics scoreboard was about $25,000. The 2014 parks budget includes only $20,000 for the improvement of the scoreboard, Olson said, but Stensrud had been looking for ways to help make up for the discrepancy. Olson said city staff would pick up the new scoreboard, saving more than $1,000 in delivery costs, and the Marshall Baseball Association would help cover the remaining difference in cost.