Proposed ENM strip mall nearly stalls over trail

Elko New Market almost had months of work on a proposed strip mall end prematurely as discussions became heated over a possible trail in the project during a special Monday, Aug. 28, meeting of the City Council.

Greystone Construction out of Shakopee is the applicant for the first phase of the two phase project that is to be located along Main Street (Scott County Road 2). The business is working with New Market Bank which owns the 3.81 acres where the strip mall will be built. New Market Bank will also anchor the 9,600-square foot structure that will be located east of Firehouse Grill. The strip mall will have five units with 37 parking spaces and provide a drive through on the east side for New Market Bank.

At the August 28 meeting the council was down to three members as two members had to abstain due to conflict of interest. Council member Joe Julius is an employee of New Market Bank and Kate Timmerman owns and operates Firehouse Grill.

The proposed 10-foot trail that caused the discussion was to be between the mall and CR 2. It was noted there are two existing sidewalks in that area, one along Dakota Avenue and the other along Old Town Road. During the meeting, Steve Thompson, chair of the city’s Planning Commission, said it was decided at the commission’s Thursday, Aug. 3, meeting that in reviewing the plans they felt it was important for there to be a connection between Firehouse Grill’s parking lot and the strip mall’s parking lot. Thompson said Firehouse Grill’s parking lot currently dead ends.

The 10-foot bituminous trail is estimated at $22,000 and would dead end at the west end of the property. For the trail to continue in front of Firehouse Grill would require some excavation and it would dead end at that business’ property as the next few lots are residential.

Mayor Bob Crawford was the main proponent for keeping the trail, mainly citing reasons of safety. He believed it would be safer for pedestrians and those in wheelchairs to enter from the front of the structure, where the main entrances will be facing CR 2, rather than the back along Old Town Road. He also thought people wouldn’t walk the distance required going north on the sidewalk along Dakota Avenue and then west on Old Town Road. Crawford also believed it was better to build the trail, which could be done now, rather than wait with the connecting parking lots, stating the second phase of the project, “may not happen.”

Thompson said the trail along CR 2 can be planned for in the future, since it is dedicated.

Jeanne Mahoney, owner of the Old Hotel Market, said, “I find it hard to believe New Market Bank doesn’t want a sidewalk.” She also believed it looked better and provided access.

Kevin O’Brien of Greystone Construction said that many businesses in the strip mall will have doors in the back for customers. He said they can come up with a walkway and crosswalk from the back for pedestrians. He was confident that in two to four years they would do the second phase.

“We do have a vested interest in this,” said Anita Vogel-Drentlaw, president of New Market Bank. She noted their current bank doesn’t allow for growth. She said it was exciting to have new businesses in town as there was a need for more commercial diversity. She hoped the project wouldn’t go away due to a trail.

Council member Trish Timmons said they....

To see more on this story pick up the August 31, 2017 print edition of The New Prague Times.