PINE ISLAND — The great outdoors are coming to the Van Horn Public Library on Pine Island.
On Tuesday night, Pine Island City Council voted unanimously to approve funding for a new outdoor patio to be built at the library later this summer.
Library director Rachel Gray said the library has often used an outdoor space for the children’s reading program during the summer, but the space is just a grassy part of the library grounds. . The use of outdoor space increased last summer during the COVID-19 pandemic as the library does not have enough indoor space to accommodate a group while maintaining social distancing.
“We basically did story time there, especially last summer,” Gray told the city council. “And we would like to have a permanent outdoor space.”
Gray approached the city who asked for bids on a project that would create a semi-circular cobblestone patio. The outer edge of the space would feature a half wall where people could sit while reading or listening to a speaker, she said.
The library’s wireless internet connection would be accessible from the patio, meaning people could also use WiFi outside, Gray said.
The project would cost around $10,000 and be paid for using part of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funding.
Gray said she would get back to city council with a timeline for the project at the next council meeting.
In other business, City Council has approved a preliminary plan for Pine Prairie’s second development.
The developer, Bigelow Homes, wants to create 29 lots of single-family homes just north of the elementary school and east of the first Pine Prairie subdivision.
The area near the primary school has seen the development of new housing as well as the paving of old gravel county roads.
Finally, City Council heard a progress report on a regional sanitary sewer project.
The project would create a regional sanitary sewage treatment plant for the towns of Wanamingo, Pine Island, Goodhue and Zumbrota. All four cities said they either needed to build new sewage treatment facilities or significantly upgrade their current ones.
City Administrator Elizabeth Howard said Pine Island Mayor David Friese testified before a Minnesota House committee regarding the project and the committee voted in favor of the project. The proposed sewage treatment project is now before the House Ways and Means Committee, which will seek to link funding to the project, she said.
Additionally, the sewage treatment plant application was submitted to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Howard said the application will be used to mark the project against other similar applications before the state legislature.
Friese said the project would cost as much during construction as each of the cities spending money on its own individual sanitation projects — with help from state bond funds — but the project will cost about $500,000. less per year to operate than individual wastewater treatment plants.
“Economically it makes sense. Environmentally it makes sense,” Friese said. “We are trying to solve a problem.”