The century-old building that once housed the Hackensack Bakery and before that, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, is no more.

On Feb. 3, the dilapidated structure at the corner of Hwy. 371 and Lake Avenue was demolished, Maintenance Supervisor Dana Stanko told the city council later that evening. Debris has been removed and the basement filled in.

In 1919 the building was erected by members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and was used until 1961, when a larger church was built.

The former church then became a bakery, owned by Ron and Jennie Garard. In 1976, their son Jim and his wife Jean took over the bakery and ran it until Jim’s death in 2016. In recent years, the building has stood vacant.

Stanko said water and sewer lines at the site will be identified and capped before summer. Future development plans for the property are not known at this time.

The council also discussed the need for debris cleanup at the site of a house fire on First Street last December. The city will discuss the situation with the homeowner.

John Griffith, HDR Inc., consultant with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), reported on the Hwy. 371 improvement project through downtown Hackensack, scheduled for 2023.

An advisory committee of 30-35 residents, business owners and others has met three times, including the afternoon of Feb. 3, to discuss community priorities (sidewalks, parking, center turn lanes, business access, etc.) and what MnDOT is able to do within a relatively-narrow 80-foot right-of-way.

“We still have lots more work to do,” Griffith admitted. “We are trying to balance viewpoints and ideas from a cross-section of users. There’s just so much room to work with, but we can’t leave it as it is today.

“I don’t  think we can make everybody happy, but we will try.”

Griffith expects the advisory committee will meet a few more times. Once issues have been fully aired and alternatives drawn up, a public open house will be scheduled. A  final design may be ready this summer.

Jim Curran of Moore Engineering gave a brief report on the city water /street project set for this summer. The environmental study has been done and the project is in the design stage. Les Mateffy of Moore Engineering will present a more comprehensive update next month.

Dottie Anderson of the Northwoods Arts Council (NAC) asked the council to consider putting in permanent WiFi service at the community building. The metal building has no WiFi reception whatsoever, which causes difficulties for Art and Book Fair vendors’ financial transactions.

Anderson stressed that the NAC is only asking for consideration at this  time. If so, the NAC will return with more details and costs before a final decision is made. The council agreed to consider the request.

In other matters, the council set a public hearing on vacation of Church Street, which runs through the parking lot of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, for March 2, 5:30 p.m., with the regular council meeting to follow.

Councilors agreed with resident Bill Riegert’s call for residents to clear snow around fire hydrants. While city crews have done a good job removing snow around many hydrants, some are still buried in snow, including the red flags that mark their locations.

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