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Council grants open container exemption for Elm Street event

There will be fewer stop signs on Golf View Drive, following the River Falls City Council's decision at the June 25 regular meeting. The stop signs on Golf View Drive at Cudd Avenue will be removed, changing the intersection from a four-way stop to a two-way stop. Traffic would continue through the intersection on Golf View Drive. Cudd Avenue traffic will continue to stop at the intersection.

"Cross traffic does not stop" signs were set to go up to warn drivers of this change, according to the council packet.

Also according to the council packet, Golf View residents requested that the city remove the stop signs due to difficulty stopping and starting on the steep incline of Golf View Drive at Cudd Avenue during the winter months.

Alcohol licenses

The council granted alcohol license renewals to Dollar General, Kinni Cafe, the River Falls Baseball Council, St. Croix Lanes and Walgreens. The various licenses were all renewals of licenses previously held. Alcohol licenses are renewed annually. The council will only renew alcohol licenses when the "agent" for the license in question is present at a council meeting.

Compliance maintenance annual report

The council approved an annual report on how the wastewater treatment plant is complying with Department of Natural Resource's requirements. The city received a 3.76 out of a possible 4.0.

The city wastewater utility is working to improve that score by improving its aeration units and the amount of oxygen in the water flowing out of the plant. A new aeration system is being designed and construction is planned to start around June 2020, according to Wastewater Superintendent Ron Groth.

Easement

The city voted to release two utility easements on a property located north of the Shopko building on Paulson Road. City Administrator Scot Simpson clarified that this property is not the Shopko property.

Council member Scott Morrissette said he was in favor of releasing the easements, but said he'd like to be on record encouraging the city to have land re-surveyed and a Certified Survey Map before releasing easements in the future.

The land in question is three parcels that would be combined into one. The three parcels were originally platted to be developed separately, and each had its own utility easement.

Elm Street exemption

The council expressed concerns about, but ultimately approved an open container exception for the 100 block of Elm Street on July 13. The open container exception would run from 3-6 p.m., during an adult bean bag tournament held on Elm Street. This is part of an event put on by Melissa Abdouch from Mei Mei's Cookies and Daniel Suffield from Shooter's Pub called "Family Fun on Elm Street" during River Falls Days.

The full event runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will include family-friendly activities such as a kids bean bag tournament, a bounce house, face painting and "Crazy Hair" booth.

Suffield and Abdouch said the open container request was only to cover the 3-6 p.m. adult bean bag tournament. Most of those on Elm Street at the time would be adults, Abdouch said, as the bounce house and face painting end at 4 p.m.

Suffield also told the council that there will be barriers and staff making sure no one leaves the area with an open container of alcohol.

Suffield and Abdouch said this event was an effort to bring a family-friendly event downtown in the absence of the carnival, which the chamber will not be having this year.

Council members Hal Watson, Diane Odeen and Scott Morrissette and Mayor Dan Toland said they granting this exemption could be a "slippery slope." While al expressed confidence that Suffield would manage the open container area well, they expressed concern that granting this exemption might prompt more requests.

"How widespread is this going to become, so is this the first domino to fall?" Watson asked.

Watson spoke before Suffield and Abdouch clarified that the open container request was for 3-6 p.m., not the full 11 a.m to 7 p.m. event.

Ultimately, the exemption was granted.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(651) 301-7849