City council approves downtown road construction needed to build drive-thru-only Dunkin’

Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 10:48 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — On Monday, the Mankato City Council moved developers one step closer toward the construction of a drive-thru only Dunkin’ in downtown Mankato.

“What was in front of the City Council was a proposal to create an access off of Riverfront Drive, extending Liberty Street into the property, and that gave the development, really, the life it needed,” Mankato City Council Member at Large Mike Laven said.

The 4-3 vote was the latest move in the city’s yearslong effort to expand the downtown footprint, which members say sets the community apart from its neighbors across southern Minnesota.

MARK FROST, MANKATO CITY COUNCIL WARD 3: “In most places, as people get older and pass away, the population goes down. That’s not happening in Mankato,” said Mark Frost, Ward 3 council member.

As early as this spring, crews will break ground to begin construction on the 880-square foot facility in the space between the Salvation Army, Anytime Fitness and MinnStar Bank, currently used as parking spots.

LAUREN ANDREGO: “Monday’s City Council vote approves construction of a curb cut right here, allowing free access to the drive-thru Dunkin, which some council members say poses a safety concern to pedestrians and the 16,000 drivers who use Riverfront Drive everyday.”

Council member Mike Laven was one of three members who voted “no.”

“It’s really a lifeline for all of west Mankato, and certainly the amount of commercial traffic that uses it to get all the way from Cenex Harvest State, through the downtown, all the way along the east end of town, to the north end of town as well is kind of critical,” explained Laven. “And so adding another intersection, particularly one that’s not going to be lighted ... is kind of a challenge for any driver.”

Council member Frost sits on the planning commission that led the development. He voted “yes.”

“The number one job of City Council, planning and zoning, is public safety. That’s all there is to it. So it’s just a matter of, we’ve got to make sure somehow, that the people who are using the thing are safe.”

In a few months, drivers can expect some road construction, as well as new signage and painted road signs to alert changes to traffic. The development, Frost says, is a positive sign in the heart of the city.

“I keep on hearing how bad things are because of this pandemic. And yet I see ‘Help Wanted’ signs everywhere around Mankato. To me, that is a good sign that if you want a job, you can get one.”

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