by Dennis Dalman
A paved parking lot is badly needed for the land east of the Bernick’s Arena, according to a consensus from the Sartell City Council at its April 13 meeting.
Before the meeting, at the public-forum session, Sartell resident Robert Shultz, a member of the Sartell Youth Hockey Association, said the parking problem at the arena was a “major deficiency,” with only 90 parking spaces there now. As many as 2,000 people, many of them out-of-towners, attend events at the arena, he noted.
Later at the meeting, the council discussed the agenda issue, agreeing a paved parking lot is a big need. Council members and Sartell City Engineer Mike Neilson discussed the possibility of advertising for bids to do the parking lot along with advertising for bids for Phase I of Pinecone Road alterations (see related story). Neilson said a stormwater study would have to be done before bids could be advertised. That could take a month or more. Perhaps, he suggested, the project might be added to bid solicitations with another phase of Pinecone Road work. Or the parking-lot project could be bid separately.
Sartell City Administrator Mary Degiovanni said there is no city money budgeted for a parking-lot project but the council could decide to bond for such a project, then the bond could be repaid with future sales-tax revenue. Such a parking lot would probably cost in the range between $400,000 and $500,000, Neilson estimated.
Council member Pat Lynch agreed there is a need for a parking lot but added the city should put that aside for now and focus on building a community center first.
Currently, there is a large grassy field to the east of the arena, and cars have been parking on that during events at the center or on the open space along Pinecone Road. One plan for a paved lot there calls for 300 parking spaces.
The council agreed to revisit the parking-lot issue in the future.