While initially indicating it was unlikely a decision would be made that night, the City of Fountain approved the hiring of engineering firm Widseth Smith Nolting at the Wednesday, October 2 meeting.
Engineering firm WSB & Associates is currently working with the city, particularly on zoning projects, the comprehensive plan, and mapping. However, City Clerk Rhonda Flattum noted the company is not on a term contract with the city.
Two proposals for city engineer were received; Widseth Smith Nolting and Bolton & Menk. Both companies offered a relatively similar proposal package, including free attendance at council meetings and no reimbursement for travel. While the pay rate represented just $2 per hour difference, Bolton & Menk had proposed a cost incentive in general engineering.
Engineer Matt Mohs, of Bolton & Menk, was present at the meeting to highlight information about the firm and opportunities for the city. Mohs was previously Fountain City Engineer for the last year and a half under WSB & Associates, but switched to Bolton & Menk more than a month ago looking for additional city engineering work. Mohs noted that Bolton & Menk exclusively contracts for city engineer work.
“If I were to come on, nothing will really change, other than the billing program. The program is advantageous. We like to be engaged with communities,” added Mohs. “We serve communities long-term; longevity is what I want to highlight.” Engineering areas of particular to the City of Fountain discussed in the presentation include water tower and treatment plant work. The company is offering a reduced fee, 20-hour, general engineering rate to the city should the council opt to approve a contract.
“With rural cities, we’re really watching the dollars and cents,” continued Mohs. “I would anticipate a smooth transition – little to no transition whatsoever.”
“The sooner the better. We should make a decision,” noted Mayor Jim Schott. Following discussion on the proposals, Councilor Chad Wangen made a motion to go with Widseth Smith Nolting. The council voted 3:1 in favor with Councilor Dave Gudmundson opposed. The agreement will begin January 1. A letter of notification will be sent to WSB & Associates.
In other news, the council talked at length regarding a possible Conditional Use Permit for Beaver Bottoms Saloon for the purpose of private concert events. A public hearing was held prior to the council meeting regarding the issue.
According to Schott, owners of the saloon are wanting to hold two concert events a month. Discussion at the hearing including times and days, location, noise and glare levels, security, emergency personnel, parking and alley traffic, and more. The first, three-band concert event was slated to be held Friday, October 4. Schott noted the saloon was discouraged from holding any events during weekdays, except holidays, only once a month, and at no time other than 6-11:30 p.m. “If it’s during the week, they’re going to let everyone know a month in advance,” he added.
Concerts would be held on a deck/stage at the back of the building, including a meet and greet deck for VIP ticket holders. A fence will prevent concertgoers from leaving the event, with reentry, once inside. “No one can hand anything through and no one can see it,” said Schott. The fence will also assist with sound deadening. While the volume of the concerts was discussed, it was unclear whether or not the bands had any method to monitor decibel levels. The city currently has noise and glare guidelines spelled out in city ordinances.
Police coverage at events will include two privately-hired officers, a front bouncer inside, and nine other security personnel. Preston Police Chief Blaise Sass, with whom the City of Fountain contracts, was present to discuss concerns and protocol put in place. “With anyone wanting to have an event, we don’t want officers tied up with private event when there’s other emergency happening. They have arranged in advance to have security personnel,” said Sass.
An additional concern is parking for police, fire, or ambulance personnel should the need arise. Barricades will block the alley between Huey’s Liquor and Frontier for emergency personnel only. “They get in and out without tearing everything down,” added Schott. In addition, the north side of city hall will be barricaded with caution tape for the parking of personal vehicles of volunteer emergency crews.
As for concert parking, any public parking space is allowed. Private parking areas, such as the post office and business parking lots, are off limits, but may be used if the business wants to allow or charge for parking privileges. Drury’s Furniture will allow the blocking of their loading dock one time. Otherwise, there is no blocking off Right-of-way without permission from the city and the parties affected. “An event holder going to have a hard time telling people where they can and can’t park,” cautioned Sass.
The saloon owners are working cooperatively with other Fountain businesses, including Village Square, to make the event a success. While the restaurant is typically closed after 8 p.m., concertgoers will be able to order pizza from the restaurant, that will then be delivered by staff to a warming unit at the saloon. “She’s kind of got everyone involved in this,” added Schott.
“It’s not just for this event,” continued Schott speaking to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP). “There are conditions the city and zoning need to consider putting in.” The saloon will get a one-time event trial. After, the city will evaluate the outcome and discuss the feedback from the saloon and community. Only after will a CUP resolution be drafted for future events. “If approved, they will have to abide by it.”
“We couldn’t be drawn up until we know what conditions we wanted,” said Flattum. “We’re giving her and the community this opportunity to see how this event goes before we move forward with CUP.”
Other items from the council meeting that were approved include reimbursement to resident for malfunction of a lift station. In this instance, the station is attached to a resident’s property. While the residence wasn’t flooded, the alarm did go off multiple times. The resident contacted the city, but it wasn’t until a MiEnergy rep came and contacted the city that it was determined the pump was malfunctioning, running around the clock since July.
“Why was it not checked when the alarm was going off,” asked Wangen.
“How many more do we have like that,” added Gudmundson. It was determined there is at least one other lift station attached directly to a private property.
“It’s not really her fault. She did notify the city, added Flattum.
“We’re going to have to have John [Hanson] look at these,” concluded Schott. “They’re supposed to be looked at every other week to make sure they’re running properly.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Wednesday, November 6, at 7 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.