City of Echo gears up for 2019 street paving

ECHO — After two years of having a gravel surface on their Main Street, Echo residents will once again be driving on pavement.

Construction that includes repaving and curbside improvements is part of the 2019 Yellow Medicine County road plan. The street is designated as a county road. The repaving is a last step in a comprehensive reconstruction that began with water and sewer line replacement in 2017.

The upcoming phase of the project is not expected to result in traffic issues since the street is only a block away from Yellow Medicine County Road 1 on the south edge of Echo. Most homes are located north of the construction zone and have other access to Minnesota Highway 67, which runs north toward Granite Falls and south to Minnesota Highway 19.

Several people whose offices and businesses are located along Main Street said Echo residents look forward to this summer’s street upgrade.

“It was a challenge this summer because of all the rain we had,” said Echo City Clerk/Treasurer Sue Paradis. “The county (Yellow Medicine County’s highway department) did a good job of spraying for dust control and grading the gravel. It definitely helped.”

She said dust and bumps that go with having a gravel surface have been more noticeable on the western portion of the street because of industry related truck traffic than on the eastern section, which has most of the public and business-related buildings.

Edward Zwetzig, owner and operator of Z’s Grub and Pub bar and grill located across the street from the Echo Community Center and city office, said the repaving will help as he works to develop his business. He purchased the establishment earlier this fall.

“I’ve been doing some extra sweeping and mopping,” Zwetzig said. “It will help once the street and sidewalk are finished. I’m hoping they’ll add handicapped accessible sidewalks on this side of the street.”

Originally from Colorado, he has been a resident of Echo for the past eight years. He chose to go into the bar and restaurant business after working at the former Norcraft cabinetry plant in nearby Cottonwood.

It’s my first time in this type of business,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion for cooking and I like people, so it made sense to give it a try. I’m happy with how it’s coming along.”

Kyle Lecy, who serves as the loan officer at Citizens Alliance Bank’s Echo branch, said he doesn’t expect any access issues for bank customers. The bank has two access points. One of them, from Minnesota Highway 67, won’t be affected by construction activities.

Lecy said the upgraded business and industry area street has potential to help in bringing new business activity to Echo.

One commercial property off Main Street next to the fire hall is currently on the market. It could be suitable for either small-scale industry or retail business. Echo also has a variety of commercial lots in visible locations that owners might want to sell or lease if there’s interest in new construction.

“We have good commercial locations that have potential,” Lecy said. “Our highway access and school (the K-12 Echo Charter School) are both valuable, and it will help to also have a newly constructed street in the business district.”