Train whistle debate blew loud in 2013

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Here are some city of Elk River highlights from 2013.

Isabella Gardner smiled as she tried out one of the swings at Orono Park’s new destination playground after a grand opening ceremony in June.

Isabella Gardner smiled as she tried out one of the swings at Orono Park’s new destination playground after a grand opening ceremony in June.

New Elk River Council Member Barb Burandt took the oath of office in January, after winning the Ward 3 election in November. Council Member Matt Westgaard also took the oath of office after being re-elected without opposition in Ward 2.

In February, the Elk River City Council appointed Stewart Wilson to an open council seat. Wilson is completing the last two years of Nick Zerwas’ Ward 1 council term, through Dec. 31, 2014. Zerwas resigned after being elected a state legislator.

A destination playground opened at Orono Park in June.

Elk River Mayor John Dietz (left) and Musz Bailey, accompanied by her son Tim, cut the ribbon to open Bailey Point Nature Preserve in August.

Elk River Mayor John Dietz (left) and Musz Bailey, accompanied by her son Tim, cut the ribbon to open Bailey Point Nature Preserve in August.

Bailey Point Nature Preserve, Elk River’s newest park, opened in August. It is located west of downtown at 1 Morton Ave. An archaeological survey and dig were done at the point in June.

Despite some public backlash, the Elk River City Council agreed in July to continue enforcing an ordinance that prohibits signs in the right of way — including garage sale, graduation party and business signs.

A tree survey conducted during the summer showed that the most prevalent type of tree in Elk River is spruce, followed by maple, apple and ash. The survey was done in preparation for the anticipated invasion of the emerald ash borer, which kills ash trees.

Elk River’s Powered by Nature brand logo was painted on the Freeport Avenue water tower in August.

The new roundabout in Elk River.

The new roundabout in Elk River.

The first roundabout in Elk River opened in the fall. It is located at the intersection of Railroad Drive, Irving Avenue and Third Street, near the old post office.

A Rogers company became the first business to locate in Elk River’s new Nature’s Edge Business Center, which is near the Northstar train station. Preferred Powder Coating broke ground in October.

Dan Belair of the city of Elk River’s engineering division held a decibel meter outside Martie’s Farm Service, located near the Jackson Avenue railroad crossing, during a wayside horn test in February. Behind him are City Engineer Justin Femrite and Street Superintendent Mark Thompson. Star News file photo

Dan Belair of the city of Elk River’s engineering division held a decibel meter outside Martie’s Farm Service, located near the Jackson Avenue railroad crossing, during a wayside horn test in February.

The city continued in 2013 to explore options to reduce train noise.

City officials worked with The Conservation Fund in 2013 to secure funding to buy the 335-acre Houlton Farm and turn it into a nature-preserve-type park, but nothing was settled at year’s end.

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