In 100% agreement, the homeowners on the gravel road stretch of Zenith Street presented a petition signed by each one of them to the Lanesboro City Council at their January 2, 2018, meeting. At the December 4 council meeting, Zenith Street resident Phil Dybing had asked the council to reconsider their decision not to pave the gravel section of the road. They advised him to collect signatures on a petition and return when he had done so.
Dybing was accompanied at the January meeting by other residents from Zenith Street, all of whom voiced their desire to see the street paved. Dybing felt that doing so would encourage people to build new homes on the road, increasing Lanesboro’s tax base.
“Let’s get this done and maybe we can get a house or two out there,” Council member Tom Smith stressed. Council member Marge Drake agreed. “I think we definitely need to expand our tax base,” she said.
Council member Jason Resseman wasn’t so sure, pointing out that blacktopping the road was not a guarantee that people would want to build homes there.
Mayor Autumn Johnson assured the homeowners that the council is working on a plan to fix the city streets and infrastructure and currently have a map available with each street marked with its priority level based on its deterioration level.
Dybing still had concerns though. “We have a fear that we’re going to be ignored,” he commented. “I would ask the council to continue to consider the matter.”
The council approved a motion to conduct a feasibility study on Zenith Street.
Riverside on the Root owner, Mike Charlebois had some erosion on the river shoreline behind his restaurant repaired with riprap and requested that the city pay the bill or at least cover a portion of it. The council asked him to check with his flood insurance first as some of the erosion would have been caused by flooding issues. The matter was tabled with a discussion to continue at the February council meeting.
Lanesboro business owner Michael Seiler addressed the council on behalf of his and several other businesses on the same street. The alley that runs behind them is in desperate need of paving. The power lines also need some attention as trucks frequently struggle to avoid hitting them.
“The main gas line runs under the alley, and if one of the power lines should come down, it would be exciting to say the least,” Seiler pointed out. He also noted that all of the business owners pay their property taxes and had signed a petition respectfully asking that the alley be paved and the power line be fixed.
“I feel that this is a conversation that we should continue to discuss to develop our community as a whole and to support our businesses downtown,” Resseman stated. The rest of the council agreed and tabled the matter to allow further discussion.
Police Chief Matt Schultz presented a recap of 2017 to the council. The department responded to 657 calls within the city of Lanesboro over the last year. Two part-time officers were hired and there were no major equipment purchases. Chief Schultz expects that one squad car will need to be replaced in 2018 and also hopes to see the addition of an SUV to the department which would be beneficial in inclement weather. Cameras will be installed this year in all squad cars.
“Good job. Pass that on to your other officers,” Resseman expressed. “We appreciate everything you do.” The rest of the council agreed and thanked the department for its hard work.
City maintenance director Andy Drake asked why his department was responsible for plowing and putting down gravel on several private drives within Lanesboro. When he first brought his concerns to the city administrator, Michele Peterson, she had reviewed the city maps and found that Drake was correct in his assessments. “We would like to correct the situation by either stopping the cleaning of the streets or making them into a city street,” she said to the council. After some discussion, it was decided that Peterson would first check with the county to be sure that no details were being missed, discuss her findings with Drake, and then bring the property owners into the discussion to resolve the issue.
The Lanesboro EDA asked the council to approve an honorary youth seat to be filled by a student nominated by Lanesboro Public School. “I think it’s a great idea,” Resseman stated. The council approved the request.
Resseman was appointed as Mayor Pro Tempore for 2018 and the council voted to leave the committee liaisons as they currently stand.
A $250 donation to SMIF was approved.
Peterson informed the council that there was a scheduling conflict with the city office employees for January 17. She asked that she be granted permission to close the city offices that day. The closure was approved.
Four applications were received for the three open seats on the Park Board. Peterson proposed that three of the four, Teri Benson, Brenda Semmen, and Rick Darling, be appointed to the seats and the fourth, Alex Gehrig be appointed as an advisory/non-voting member. She felt that all four would be a great asset to the board. The council approved the appointments of all four applicants.
Nancy Martinson and Sarah Klingson were approved as the new members of the Lanesboro Library Board. Erica Draper’s application to join the ambulance crew was also approved.
Council member Smith proposed that all city employees be required to also work as first responders. “That’s a dramatic policy,” City Attorney Thomas Manion stated, suggested that he spend some time researching the legalities of such a policy before a decision be made.
Resseman noted that requiring all city employees to be certified as first responders could eliminate qualified individuals for certain positions. He suggested changing it to only include new fire department hires.
Smith and the rest of the council agreed that that would be a logical decision. Mayor Johnson asked Manion to research how to word the policy and present his findings at the February meeting, which the fire chief would also be asked to attend so he could be included in the conversation.
The council revisited the matter of allowing permitted parking for canoe trailers and other commercial vehicles at the ballfield parking area. The Park Board had previously recommended charging an annual $35 fee to help cover the costs of the permits. A motion was passed to issue $35 seasonal permits for numbered or lettered commercial parking spots.
The next Lanesboro City Council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on February 5.