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A bee-friendly community: Winona Council approves pollinator plan, downtown four-way stop; backs off on food trucks

A bee-friendly community: Winona Council approves pollinator plan, downtown four-way stop; backs off on food trucks

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Winona City Hall

The Winona City Council hit a wide variety of topics at Monday night’s meeting, ranging from bees to stoplights to food trucks.

The council unanimously approved suggestions by the Winona Area Pollinators to help protect and encourage the population of bees and other pollinators.

Recommendations approved in the resolution include educating city staff on how to foster habitats, reviewing pesticide and chemicals used by the city and its subcontractors, looking for sites to plant pollinator-friendly native plants, and developing a plan to allow habitats to continue existing where reasonably practical.

Chad Ubl, communications director for the parks and recreation department, said the efforts would also be in concert with Healthy Lake Winona’s efforts to protect the shoreline with strategic mowing, and for this part of the plan there wasn’t a cost anticipated.

“I don’t think there’s many changes we’ll have to make,” Ubl said.

New four-way stop; lights removed

The council also voted unanimously to replace the signal lights at the intersection of Third and Main streets with a four-way stop.

City engineer Brian DeFrang said the cost of fixing or replacing the current lights, which do not have working pedestrian crossing buttons, was estimated from $30,000 to $50,000, and the traffic counts indicated it would easily support a four-way stop instead.

“It’d be really consistent with the area,” DeFrang said. “I do not see this being a major impetus for change in the area.”

There is precedent for the change near the intersection, including four-way stops at the intersections of Second and Main streets and Third and Franklin streets.

The total cost is estimated to be less than $3,000.

Council member George Borzyskowski said that a four-way could be helpful, especially in low traffic times like the evening.

“I think it will move traffic better,” Borzyskowski said.

Food truck stalled

The council put the brakes on a second food truck downtown, after an overwhelming number of concerns by council members, ranging from impacts on area businesses to consistency with the ordinance regarding vendors.

The petitioner Joel Anacabe, doing business as Anacabe’s Awesome Eats, requested to put a truck in downtown Winona.

Council member Michelle Alexander said that the ordinance requires vendors to also have a brick-and-mortar store, which was true of other food trucks, including Rubio’s and previously to Zaza’s.

Alexander said it wouldn’t be good precedent to allow one to avoid that regulation.

“I don’t think we can waive our ordinance as written,” Alexander said.

Others, including Borzyskowski and Mayor Mark Peterson, echoed the sentiment that it wouldn’t be fair to other businesses that follow that requirement.

Council member Gerry Krage said that the city had also had complaints from businesses in the past about the food trucks, and they should revisit the ordinance to see how it stacks up with other areas, and whether the fee was appropriately sized, before they come back to the request.

Currently it’s a $200 fee for operation per year.

“There are more and more communities doing this,” Krage said, “if we just had a better handle on it.”

Sobieski Park contract approved

In another step forward on Sobieski Park Pavilion plans, the city approved a contract for $688,000 through Wapasha Construction, pending the receipt of funds from the 4th Ward Neighborhood Watch Group.

The city has allocated $250,000 for the project, and the citizens’ group has indicated that the remaining donations needed to cover the difference will come from the Winona Community Foundation.

Recommendations approved in the resolution include educating city staff on how to foster habitats, reviewing pesticide and chemicals used by the city and its subcontractors, looking for sites to plant pollinator-friendly native plants, and developing a plan to allow habitats to continue existing where reasonably practical.
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