New playgrounds approved for Granite Falls

Kyle Klausing
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune

The Granite Falls City Council held their first in-person meeting for the first time in several months as state and local institutions slowly began the process of reopening. The meeting included a development which is sure to be of interest to local youth and families - the purchase of new playground equipment for Highland Park! The equipment is produced by Minnesota/Wisconsin Playground based out of Golden Valley. Several eye-catching components in the new playground set include a “Wavy Tree,” “Olympus Climber,” “Wave Zio Slide,” “Trapezoid Overhead Ladder,” and a multi-age swing set. The total cost for the new playground equipment comes to a grand total of $35,000. In a similar vein, the Council also approved the purchase of new “nature-based playground equipment” for Memorial Park. The term ‘nature-based playground’ is generally used to describe outdoor spaces where kids can use slides, rock climbs, gardens, sand pits, orchards, climbing walls, streams, caves, labyrinths, or other natural features that help children discover and learn about nature while they play. The City received two different bids - one from Ultimate Playgrounds out of Prior Lake and one from Whole Trees based out of Madison, WI. Ultimate’s bid came in at $ 127,119 and Whole Trees’ bid came in at $347,392. Both bids outlined plans for a new playground installation consisting of an interconnected network of cables, platforms, and beams. After discussion, the Council voted to approve the bid from Ultimate Playgrounds. The Council received a report on the hydroelectric plants performance during the months of April and May. The report found that production for this period totaled 166,854 kWh. Olson Plumbing 

ed the new water lines up to the generators. They will return when #2 is installed. At the very latest, the city is at least three weeks out for reinstallation. Cordelle from BARR will be out at that time to do some monitoring of the current leak around the south west side of the building. Council also reviewed the May Utility Commission report. Highlights from the report include notice that tree trimming will become more regular as summer gets underway, street light removal along Highway 23 for related construction project, and LED street light conversions (which occur every time traditional halogen bulbs are replaced). The Council also approved a contract for professional services with the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission. The UMVRDC will assist the City of Granite Falls with administering and writing grants for Memorial Park. Under the terms of the agreement, Planning Director Kristi Fernholz is named as the primary contact for the project. The grant is being sought through the Greater Minnesota Regional Park and Trail Commission and administered through the DNR. The total cost for the professional services amounts to $4,800. Another item of discussion at the Council meeting was the planned Highway 67 road work planned between Granite Falls and Echo. This section of highway was closed off in the spring of 2019 after portions of the pavement and road foundation began sliding away from the hill - making the road completely undrivable. MnDOT considered several solutions to the problem, such as repairing the roadway in place, realigning the roadway along the existing route or rerouting Highway 67 via other roadways. After review, MnDOT determined that repairing or realigning the roadway was not feasible due to the high costs, environmental impacts, and presence of nearby historical resources. Two options are now on the table. Option A will move the Hwy 67 designation from the existing roadway to portions of Hwy 274 and County Road 18 (210th Ave). Option B would move the Hwy 67 designation from the existing roadway to portions of Hwy 274 and County Road 2 (180th Ave). Both options are estimated to take about a year to complete and are roughly equal in cost. They will, however, both increase the travel time between Granite Falls and Echo. MnDOT says they are soliciting public comment throughout the month of June before they make any final decisions.