The Scandia Arts & Heritage Center is moving forward.

The Scandia City Council reviewed and approved a site plan for the 6.3-acre project last week. The council also approved a set of variances for the project, from the wetland setbacks and from the Olinda Trail right-of-way.

Organized and funded by Scandia Heritage Alliance, the project will feature as its centerpiece the restored 1895 Water Tower Barn.

The site will also feature a 264-seat outdoor amphitheater constructed with limestone, boardwalks and paths around the wetland areas to the north and east, and water features such as a splash pad play area and a functional pitcher pump—a nod to the historic purpose of the barn.

A parking lot for 31 cars and space for a second arts education building, in a future phase of the project, are also included.

Heritage Alliance president Sue Rodsjo said the Water Tower Barn, which was saved from demolition in 2014, is set to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Rodsjo also noted that fundraising for the project is ongoing, with a $100,000 grant from the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation being among the funding received recently.

Rodsjo highlighted some of the programming being planned for space in partnership with the adjacent Gammelgarden Museum, including museum displays, small music and theater productions, art shows and classes.

Discussing the site plan, architect Peter Hilger noted the physical limitations of the area and the need for the variances to improve drainage, to save space for the future second building, and to redirect the amount of sound potentially leaving the amphitheater site.

“The answer is yes, it could be done (without variances), but imprudently, I would argue,” Hilger said.

Responding to councilwoman Heather Benson’s question, City Administrator Ken Cammilleri said the Heritage Alliance would be responsible for maintaining the property as part of its 100-year lease agreement, but the city would be responsible for the public areas immediately around it. Because the city is leasing the property to the Heritage Alliance, the city would be responsible for the site’s maintenance should the Heritage Alliance ever dissolve.

 

Nuisance ordinance

People creating a public nuisance in Scandia could, in the worst of cases, receive criminal penalties of up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail.

Likewise, if enacted, city staff would have the ability, after a period of notification, to clean up such nuisances and add the cost of the clean-up to the owner’s property tax bill. 

Those are two of the more significant changes in the city’s new public nuisance ordinance, the first draft of which the council began considering last week.

City Attorney Chris Nelson gave a brief review the new ordinance, noting that the ordinance has been completely re-drafted.

“One of the things I like best about this this is the enforcement mechanism,” Nelson said.

The council took no action on the ordinance and will debate it at length at its Nov. 3 meeting due to not having enough time to review it prior to last week’s meeting.

 

Other business:

• The council approved the purchase of a John Deere 6130M tractor with boom and rear flail mowers at a cost of $198,505.68. The tractor is scheduled to be replaced in 2022, but Public Works Director Charles Fischer asked the council to approved the purchase now to lock in the 2021 price for next year.

• The council approved a special event permit for The Minnesotan Cup hockey tournament, to be held on Jan. 28-29 in conjunction with the city’s Vinterfest events.

 

The next Scandia City Council meeting will be held Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

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