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Brainerd City Council: Rack it up

Paul Bunyan and his trusty sidekick Babe have recently relocated to downtown Brainerd, in order to keep a watchful eye on the bicycles of those visiting downtown.

A new bike rack at the corner of Laurel and Seventh streets in downtown Brainerd showcases Brainerd icons like Paul Bunyan and Babe, as well as the historic water tower. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)
A new bike rack at the corner of Laurel and Seventh streets in downtown Brainerd showcases Brainerd icons like Paul Bunyan and Babe, as well as the historic water tower. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)

Paul Bunyan and his trusty sidekick Babe have recently relocated to downtown Brainerd, in order to keep a watchful eye on the bicycles of those visiting downtown.

Brainerd Restoration has teamed up with the welding program at Central Lakes College to design and build a pair of bike racks, which will be placed in locations in Brainerd.

Tuesday, Amy Gray of Brainerd Restoration updated the Brainerd City Council on the project. The first bike rack was recently installed on the corner of Seventh and Laurel streets.

Brainerd Restoration plans on installing bike racks at four other locations, Gray said. Another bike rack designed by CLC will be installed at Crow Wing County's Community Services building. Bike racks at three other locations-Franklin Arts Center, Kiwanis Park and the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation building-will be designed and built by different local metal artists.

During a Showcasing Brainerd presentation before a February city council meeting, Gray told the council the bike rack project was coming together. Partners in the project included the city of Brainerd, the CLC welding program and Gull Lake Sandblasting & Powdercoating.

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David Otto, CLC welding instructor, said the project was a great way for welding students to learn a variety of skills they'd use on the job, like manufacturing and working directly with a customer.

"It's real life and it's real learning," Otto said.

Four students volunteered to work on the project, Otto said: Patrick Demars, Michael Dumbeck, Billy Dreher and Julie Rosenthal. It took the students about two weeks to come up with the design for the bike rack, he said, which includes the aforementioned Paul and Babe, as well as the historic water tower and bike chain and sprocket elements.

"The students did all of this design themselves," Otto said. "There was no input on what it should look like from myself, Paul (Jillson) or Steve (Verdon), my assistants in the program."

Students had to alter the design slightly after meeting with city employees at the site where the bike rack would be, Otto said. In order to secure the rack and make sure no one could steal it, students altered the design to incorporate two heavy planters on either end of it. The added weight ensures someone can't pick up the rack and haul it away, he said.

"That was a valuable lesson for the students, because there's changes and you have to adapt," Otto said.

Gull Lake Sandblasting & Powdercoating sandblasted and painted the bike rack, Otto said. The company donated its time, Gray said, which was appreciated. Mike Angland, architect with Widseth Smith Nolting, also provided input and guidance during the project.

There were initial concerns about vandalism, Gray said, but after being in place for more than a week, the bike rack has gotten rave reviews. People are taking photos of the rack and talking about it on Facebook, she said.

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"People seem really excited about this bike rack," Gray said.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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