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Business owner allowed to take over landscaping

A downtown Brainerd business owner will be allowed to change the plants and landscaping in the garden and planters near his storefront.

At the Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group voted to allow the request from Edwin Menk, owner of E.L. Menk Jewelers, on the corner of Seventh and Laurel streets.

But the approval was against the recommendation of City Planner Mark Ostgarden.

Ostgarden said that while Menk will do an “outstanding job planting and maintaining the landscaping,” there were other factors the council should consider:

• The desire to create consistency in the downtown landscape environment.

• Downtown should be doing this together. Allowing an individual to act alone on anything affects the rest.

• Something not being done to the satisfaction of an individual should not be the basis to permit individual action. Others may wonder why one person is allowed to alter the agreed upon landscaping.

• Liability concerns.

A private contractor hired by the city has been maintaining the downtown landscaping since 2011.

During the last growing season, a couple of people raised concern about the condition of the hanging baskets and urn plantings, Ostgarden said.

“I agree that last year’s baskets were not as lush and full,” he said. “A couple, but not all, of the urns did not have the pizazz and color desired.”

Because of those complaints, the city will prepare a quote description in attempt to mend the situation.

At the meeting Monday, Menk said he wanted a beautiful doorstep to greet his customers, and that he could improve it by replacing some of the plants at his own expense.

City council member Mary Koep said she understood Ostgarden’s points, but she “doesn’t think we should discourage this (request).”

Menk is the second business owner to take over the landscaping. Lori Brown from Coco Moon was given permission by council a few years ago to maintain the island and urn near her storefront.

The topic will be revisited in a year.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at