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Preston City Council Report : Plea for support for Forestville


Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Features

Historic Forestville is scheduled to be closed July 1 because of budget cuts. The State Historical Society because of reduced funding has been forced to eliminate support for several sites across the state.

Dick Nelson, in an effort to keep the site open on a more limited basis (possibly Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), presented a resolution to the council for their consideration at their Monday, June 2 meeting. He encouraged the council to take a leadership role and support the effort with $5,000. (A meeting to further discuss the future of Historic Forestville was planned for Wednesday, June 4 - see article in this weeks Journal).

Council member Heath Mensink inquired whether the Fillmore County Historical Society could take over for the state? Nelson implied that most county level people were volunteers.

Council member Mike Gartner said that 'he'd love to see it remain open' but couldn't see where the money would come from.

Mayor David Pechulis suggested a matching pledge based on it staying open and the commitment of other towns and the county. Pechulis said, "It has to be a group effort."

City Attorney David Joerg indicated that it was necessary that the intentions of the council be in writing before voting. The council seemed to agree on the idea of a matching pledge and support for Historic Forestville, but delayed a vote until the resolution detailing the idea of the matching pledge was in writing.

Joint Powers Trail Board

Nelson gave good news to the council on trail activities. The Joint Powers Board that includes the cities of Preston, Wykoff, Spring Valley, Chatfield, Ostrander, and Fountain works collectively to build trails.

Nelson said there is $950,000 available through DNR which is enough to work on the first bridge and purchase land for the trail planned to connect Preston with Forestville. Nelson warned that it is "all predicated on the Attorney General letting us do it."

According to Nelson, there is also enough money to purchase the in-town trail from the City of Preston after which the trail will be given to the DNR. Looking ahead Nelson requested that out of the money received for the in-town trail by Preston that $35,000 of it be used for the restoration of the Historic Elevator.

Special Assessments

Council member Mike McGarvey moved that the council use Sturgis Rules of Order as opposed to Robert's Rules of Order in an effort to allow for reconsideration of the splitting of the two County 17 projects. McGarvey noted that all five council members were not present for either vote on the issue at previous meetings. Sturgis rules would allow any council member regardless of their previous vote to make a motion to reconsider. David Joerg explained that there was not a precedent made by the council for which rules should be used. After some discussion the council approved the use of Sturgis, with Council member Jerry Scheevel and Mensink opposed. McGarvey then moved for the reconsideration of the motion where special assessments were to be governed as two separate projects. The motion was defeated with McGarvey and Pechulis voting for and Mensink, Gartner and Scheevel against.

Citizens inquired if that was final. Joerg explained that the final decision would be the assessment hearings. The specific amount of the special assessments will not be known until the bids are opened, which should be next week. The hearings will be scheduled after the exact costs are known. Adjustments to the assessments can be made at that hearing.

Scheevel suggested that anyone who feels they should be assessed less should start getting their documentation together. Spring Avenue resident Ron Laughlin made a point that 'the property value of everyone here is not going to be increased in value the amount of the assessment.' He suggested that it will 'cost the city quite a little. . . as existing improvements are less than twenty years old.'

Douglas Boysen questioned whether the city's bond would be enough to pay for the assessments that will revert to the city be cause of one of two reasons: existing improvements are less than twenty years old; or there is less property value increase than the assessed amount.

Other business

Public Works Director Dan Skadsem requested the council approve money for the completion of Park Lane and approve work to be done on the truck route. He indicated that there was $57,000 left in the street budget. The bids to complete Park Lane total nearly $35,000 and the preliminary work on the truck route will cost approximately $21,000. The truck route runs on the east side of town and is intended to eliminate heavy truck traffic down town. Both projects were approved.

Mike Gartner related that people on the street have inquired as to the costs to the City for legal advice for the Heartland matter. The legal costs are $12,228 and with the mayor's trips to Connecticut and Illinois to visit existing plants, the total costs are $14,520. Jerry Scheevel questioned the seemliness of $200 of the mayor's expenses for telephone calls. A citizen related that she thinks the developer should be responsible for the costs incurred by the issuance of a CUP.

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