The Houston City Council met on Monday, May 8 at the Houston City Hall. In attendance were Houston City Administrator Peterson, Deputy Clerk Hegland, Mayor Olson, and Council members Knutson, Sanden, Krage, and Schutte. Following a Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting regarding property classification and valuation, the meeting began at 6:13 p.m.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the council opened the meeting to public comment, then moved on to the business on the agenda. First, the council approved a proposed “zip line” for the Houston Nature Center. The council heard from a citizen who was constructing a play house at the site, who explained how the idea for the zip line came about, along with supplying diagrams of the proposed structure. He mentioned that the structure would not technically be considered a zip line, but would instead fall under the heading of “minor playground equipment like climbing walls” for insurance purposes. The proposed structure is much closer to the ground that a proper zip line, and Administrator Peterson noted that it would be classified more as a “modified swing set.” After looking over the schematic and asking a few questions regarding safety and the design of the handles, the council voted unanimously to approve the construction of the zip line structure.
The council then heard a proposal regarding the replacement of the park entrance sign for the Nature Center off of Highway 76. Administrator Peterson related that the city received an offer from the State Health Improvement Program to fund $1,500. Peterson noted that they had received funds from the SHIP program in the past, and the remainder of the sign will be paid for by the Friends of the Nature Center. Of note was a feature of the sign that allowed upcoming events to be attached and slotted in and out to promote each in turn. The council were unanimous in approving the construction of the sign.
Next, Administrator Peterson asked the council to approve the installation of an air exchanger for the city hall building. Peterson cited concerns due to the lack of windows and air movement in the building, particularly with the ambulance exhaust coming in from the attached garage. The council moved and approved the proposal unanimously. Peterson then explained that the computer used by city Finance Director Larry Jerviss was beginning to run loudly, and asked the council approve the purchase of a new computer before this one suffered a possible crash. The computer was originally purchased in 2009, and Peterson estimated a replacement desktop model with all necessary software would run around $700. Peterson mentioned that the plan is to replace one computer at a time as the devices age, rather than having to wait until they all need replacement. The council unanimously approved Peterson replacing the computer for the Finance Director.
The council then approved the city’s contract renewal with Waste Management. Administrator Peterson noted that the rates from Waste Management had been raised recently and the city prices had not yet been raised to reflect that. The council asked both the finance director and city administrator to make sure the city’s numbers matched those of Waste Management in the event of future increases. The council also unanimously approved using Flaherty and Hood as an alternate legal services firm for the city in special circumstances. Administrator Peterson requested the authorization to call upon Flaherty and Hood “if it is in the city’s best interest.” Peterson mentioned that their current legal services firm has been increasingly busy, and there are some circumstances that are time-sensitive and more of a specialty for Flaherty and Hood. Peterson replied that she would use Flaherty and Hood almost exclusively for zoning other municipal matters that are specialized to their agency, using the primary agency for real estate, prosecution, contracts, and other services.
Police Chief Breault then spoke to the council about the possibility of securing a new area for impound and storage, noting that his current area faces a danger of being overcrowded. Chief Breault said he had been working with City Maintenance Superintendent Randy Thesing in securing a new fenced-in area. Thesing explained to the council that they have scouted an area southeast of the fire station, “space you can’t really put a building on,” to use for a 50’ by 50’ square fenced area. Thesing has spoken to Moe Fencing of Holmen, Wis., who had quoted him around $5,000 for the fencing project. Thesing also mentioned that being near to the fire department would allow them to run power to the new impound area for security cameras or lights. The council agreed to table the idea until more bids can be gathered for the proposed project.
Additionally, the city heard infrastructure updates regarding the replacement of manholes on Cedar Street, the opening of bids for drinking water treatment project on June 7, and cracked curbs on Ellsworth Street. The meeting adjourned at 7:36 p.m. The Houston City Council will meet next at the Houston City Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 12, 2017.