A regular meeting of the Ostrander City Council was held on January 2, with all members in attendance (DJ Start, Pam Kunert, Mayor Pat Nesler, newly hired City Clerk Wendy Brincks, outgoing City Clerk Christine Hyrkas, and Heidi Jones).
City Attorney Jennifer Gumbel addressed the council with her ideas regarding how to deal with the issue of developing a Feed Lot ordinance, and related zoning. She suggested dealing with the issue in “two tiers” by first developing a Feed Lot ordinance, and then bringing the issue to the Zoning Board sometime after the February city council meeting is held. Pam Kunert asked, “Would that be something that some of us council members could sit in on?” Gumbel replied that council attendance and involvement would be very beneficial, and she will check to see how that can best be accomplished without violating any regulations about council meetings.
The council asked Gumbel about the proper way to deal with the open seat on the city council following Erin Volkart’s departure from the council. There was discussion that because the majority of Erin’s term is still remaining, the options are to either leave the vacancy unfilled until the end of the term, or to hold a special election. Start voiced his opinion that, “I don’t think you want to leave it vacant.” The council chose to pursue the option of holding a special election, most likely in the spring of 2018.
Gumbel also addressed the council regarding a survey that had been completed regarding daycare options in the LeRoy-Ostrander area. She said the survey found a “gap” of licensed daycare, and that gap represents 31 children. She stated that right now, there are four licensed daycare centers in the school district, and all four are in LeRoy. She said her committee is looking into the possibility to organize as a non-profit entity, to start pursuing options to help facilitate more daycare in the area.
The council discussed their desire to hold a “farewell event” for Erin Volkart, Chris Hyrkas, and Dustin Tart, as all three have or are leaving their positions for the city. Wendy Brincks will email the three, and get back to the council with options for when to hold the event.
Dustin Johnson (fire chief) reported that December was a quiet month, and that his department is still looking for a used pumper engine to purchase. The council approved Wendy to attend MCFOA training in Bloomington March 20-23.
Kunert brought up a concern that sidewalk snow removal at the post office has not been completed as well as it should, and she feels this could be a safety problem for citizens walking there. DJ Start agreed, saying, “It’s all hard and packed down now.” The council approved Wendy to contact the post office staff to bring the issue to their attention.
The council approved paying bills from Bolton & Menk, as well as Hoversten/Johnson. The council also approved advertising for the vacated city maintenance position. The council voted to select Jennifer Gumbel and her firm as city attorney for 2018. Marty Walsh gave a short presentation regarding services he can offer to communities that do not have an economic development department. He said his regular hours include Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Fillmore County, and he welcomes questions at any time.
Heidi Jones said she has another commitment on Tuesdays, and asked if council meetings could be bumped back to a 6:30 p.m. starting time on a regular basis. All other council members said that was OK with them, so the change was made, effective immediately. The meeting adjourned about 6:50 p.m. The next regular meeting of the council will be Tuesday, February 6, at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome.