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Lanesboro City Council Report


Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
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Council postpones decision on police chiefBy John TorgrimsonMonday, June 25, 2001

“It shouldn’t take eight weeks,” interim Police Chief John Tuchek told the Lanesboro City Council at Monday night’s meeting. Tuchek was reacting to the council wanting to postpone a decision on hiring a new police chief.

Touchek and Mike Churney, who works as a part-time police officer in Lanesboro, are the two applicants for the post which was created with the resignation of John Carlin in May. Tuchek has been acting chief since Carlin left on May 12.

“Both Mike Churney and I are upset that this is being delayed further,” Tuchek said.

Council member Hal Cropp explained the need for the council to delay the hiring in order to develop a job description and establish the criteria that will be used in making a decision by the council. Cropp thought it would also be useful to have a position paper on what are the needs of the city relative to law enforcement.

“We need to make sure there is a job description and concrete information in front of us,” Cropp said. “And we need to talk through some policy issues.”

Council member Peggy Hanson agreed.

“I’ve been thinking along the same lines,” Hanson said. “I think we should put together a small committee to look at criteria.”

“I think that this process has gotten out of hand,” Tuchek interjected into the discussion. “I am not happy with how this is being handled.”

Tuchek went on to say that the League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Police Officers Association have been contacted.

“They say that you can’t go ahead and make up the criteria after the fact,” Tuchek said. “For example, you could all of a sudden make a criteria that you had to have a four year degree versus overall experience.”

“Well, is it fair to hire you and change your job description later,” Cropp responded, saying that the council is trying to “fix a flawed process”.

The council vowed that the job description and criteria would not be specific to either candidate and focused solely on the skills needed to be chief of police.

Cropp, Hanson and City Administrator, Barb Hoyhtya will work on bringing these items to the next city council meeting. The council will then decide how it wishes to proceed.

Coffee Street Road Project

Fillmore County Consulting Engineer Eugene Ulring and Lanesboro Public Utilities Commission member Jerry Evenson were at the council meeting to explain the history behind the Coffee Street road project. Ulring was the county engineer and Evenson was a member of the city council at the time when the project was originally discussed.

Ulring walked the city council through an itemized listing of costs associated with the project, showing estimates compared to actual bid on lighting, utilities and storm sewers. Ulring said that the original estimate for storm sewers was $109,424 compared to the actual bid of $129,657.

“The state determines what the city’s share of the storm sewers are by determining the storm sewer drainage area,” Ulring explained to the council. “In this case, they set the city’s share at 55% of the costs instead of 33%.”

Evenson pointed out that this accounted for an increase in more than $15,000 for storm sewers. ($58,345 versus $42,786).

The total city share of the project is $117,321. Of this amount, Evenson said that the Public Utilities Commission would pick up the cost of utilities and lights on the project, approximately $45,000. This would leave the city with a balance of nearly $73,000.

Hal Cropp raised the question of whether there would be any cost overruns on the project. Ulring said that it would be hard to say, but that most likely they would be for utilities.

While the council was unsure of how it would raise the funds to pay for the project, it seemed to have a better understanding of what the costs of the project were compared to a few weeks ago.

Ulring said that the initial costs that the city would need to pay would be for preliminary engineering estimated at $10,000.

Parking Committee

Hal Cropp reported on the Parking Committee’s efforts to deal with traffic and parking problems in the city. He said that the committee has developed two questionnaires that will be used to survey residential and business needs regarding parking. This will go out in the next two weeks.

Cropp also recommended that the businesses that park their canoe launches at the Bass Pond Parking Lot be given keys to the softball parking area so that they can park their trailers there.

County Commissioner Duane Bakke, who was attending the meeting, pointed out that this would be a problem during the Buffalo Bill Days softball tournament.

While Peggy Hanson acknowledge that they would have to find an alternative solution during Buffalo Bill Days, she was concerned over the issue of the private use of public property. This issue also came up in reference to a request from a skate school in Minneapolis to reserve use of the Bass Pond Parking Lot the summer of 2002.

The council agreed that this issue should be looked at in the future.

Other Matters

• The Parkway Pub will not hold an alley party in July because of concerns raised by a Bed & Breakfast.

• According to John Brose, the Lanesboro Public Schools would be willing to discuss the idea of a shared librarian if the city was interested in this. The matter was referred to the Library Board.

• The city will hold talks with Carrolton Township over concerns about safety on the Ox Trail Road. Right now a thin cable is all that protects vehicles from the cliffside. The school uses a van on this road to pick up children for school.

• City Administrator, Barb Hoyhtya will meet with MnDOT regarding the need for a traffic study at the intersection of Parkway and County Road #8. Five streets converge on that intersection.

• The Lanesboro Planning & Zoning will meet with Holt Township, Carrolton Township, and the city of Whalan on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center to discuss the the two-mile radius for sub-
divisions.

• Council member Kevin Drake raised some concerns about a headline in the Republican-Leader on June 7, stating: “Lanesboro stands against Pro-Corn”. Drake found the headline misleading in that the city council had only raised some concerns about odor in a letter it sent to the MPCA.

John torgrimson
On another matter, the EDA has set up an informal telecommunications task force to look into the community’s needs in this area.

• Skate Tour

The city has received a formal request from Zephyr Skate Tour to use the Bass Pond parking lot for their skating camps. They require an area that is smooth and free of cracks for in-line skating. As the group is a “for profit organization” this raised several issues about the use of public places for private purposes.

While the council agreed that this warrants further discussion in the future, the council approved allowing the group access to the parking lot on the dates requeste

• Ethanol

The last major issue of the night involved discussion about the MPCA hearing regarding the ethanol plant on Thursday in Preston.

Mayor John Brose said that he had talked to an MPCA representative and mentioned that the council would have someone in attendance at the Thursday meeting. Brose told the council that while the city had already sent a letter to the MPCA formally stating the city’s concerns about the smell from the ethanol plant, he felt that it would be a good idea if the city had a representative at the meeting.

Two citizens spoke out strongly urging the city to

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