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Lanesboro Council asked to restructure Lanesboro Center for the Arts or give up $1 million bond


Fri, Mar 7th, 2003
Posted in Features

The status of the proposed Lanesboro Center for the Arts (LCA) took center stage at the packed Lanesboro City Council meeting Monday night, March 3rd.

Council member Joe O’Connor presented a detailed summary of the LCA project to date. According to O’Connor, the original board structure, which included city representatives and representatives from the Commonweal and Cornucopia, proved "difficult to implement" because of the public versus private focuses of the representatives involved.

The LCA board, which presently consists of four city appointed members, proposed a new plan in which the Commonweal and Cornucopia would fund-raise, design the center, and develop and manage the project while the city council would appoint the Economic Development Authority to act as a "review, approval, and verification committee." Under this set-up, there would be no city representatives on the LCA; it would consist solely of the two arts groups. The proposed plan would allow the LCA to own everything it raises until the time the state requires ownership by the city as a requirement for receiving a matching grant of $1 million in state bonding. The EDA would oversee the project and be responsible for reporting progress to the state and city council as necessary.

Councilwoman Peggy Hanson, who serves on the EDA, expressed her concerns about the suggested LCA board, pointing out the need to know the board structure and fiduciary responsibility, as well as clear use agreements. The council also expressed concern about the significant role that the city itself must play due to the fact that tax-exempt bonds can only fund a publicly owned enterprise.

A second option offered by the current LCA board was for the city to rescind its decision to participate in the LCA project and decline the bond.

Councilman O’Connor declared that, as for the remaining members of the LCA, "Our work is done." On hearing this, the council moved to accept the resignations of the current board members. Relieved board member John Torgrimson offered to second the motion, generating a few chuckles. The council opted to have the EDA look at the proposal before making any final decision on it.

Police

Police Chief Stuart Stotts appeared at the council meeting to give his monthly report and his sixty-day assessment. Stotts stressed his concern for Lanesboro’s youth, mentioning his work at the library and elementary school, the need to enforce curfews, and the lack of "good, wholesome activities for youth." Other concerns of the chief were the out-dated, hard-to-enforce ordinances of the city and the lack of communication within the city government and with outside agencies such as the sheriff’s department.

The council queried Stotts as to part-time policeman Mike Cherney’s status on the force. Stotts answered that he had chosen to not schedule Cherney through the winter to see how much he himself could do and what the department’s needs were. When asked if he planned on calling Cherney back, Stotts answered that he did not want to do so. Actual dismissal would be up to the council’s discretion. On the advice of city attorney Tom Manion, the council decided to invite Cherney to the next council meeting to discuss the situation.

Other business

•In other business, the council approved a change in the lease agreement with Midwest Wireless. Because Midwest needed to add three antennas to the water tank, they offered to increase rental by $100 per month. Midwest representative Andy Bobrytzke informed the council that the new antennas would boost phone signals in the area.

•The council agreed to advertise for bids for the water park. Diane Capron, a representative of the Swim and Recreation Committee, told the council that Raindrops’ engineering firm had sent a bid package and had available a list of potential contractors. Councilwoman Peggy Hanson’s concerns about maintenance of the water park were addressed by Marge Drake when she suggested the possibility of setting aside $1,200 from the beer tent profits each year for the expected maintenance costs.

•Andy Drake requested the purchase of a new city backhoe. With trade in of the old backhoe, the cost would be $15,742. Although some council members questioned the need for a new backhoe, the council opted to approve the purchase contingent on the utilities department paying half of the cost as it has in the past.

•The bond for the Walking Bridge project was set at $98,000. Fundraiser Julia Borgen informed the council that her group had collected $15,600 and had another $5,000 in pledges. (The project is still short around $29,000.) Mayor Steve Rahn told Julia and her group, "Good luck on your fundraising, we’re going to need it!"

The busy council also:

• heard from the Public Utilities Commission that electrical rates would need to be raised whether or not generators were purchased by the city;

• addressed a complaint of colored water in the city with the answer that the line in question is on the agenda for capital improvements;

•approved the Park Board’s suggestion to raise rates at the campground from $17 to $20 for RVs;

• approved documents presented by the transition team for the new ambulance department and heard that two new ambulance volunteers, Diane Capron and Wendy Hayes, were training;

Wanda Hanson can be contacted at news@fillmorecountyjournal.com

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