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Lanesboro City Council

Fri, Mar 30th, 2001
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Concerns raised about damBy Mike McGrathMonday, March 26, 2001

At its regular meeting last Monday evening, the Lanesboro City Council held a discussion with representatives of the Bank of Cashton, Wisconsin about the fate of the building known as the cheese factory.

Mr. Scot Wall led the discussion for the Cashton bank, explaining that his bank holds a financial interest in the building and would like to see the disposition of the building settled.

"Wed like to know what we can do," Wall explained. Adding that his bank would "like to get the ball rolling."

The situation with the building is complex, to say the least. The City bought the building from a private family on a contract that would provide annuity payments to the family over an extended period. The city then turned around and sold the building on a contract to the operators of the cheese factory, as part of a community development special financing project.

In 1999, the cheese making operation shut down and defaulted on the city loan. The bank in Cashton was also caught in the closing of the business, having lent money to the cheese operation for equipment, while taking a second mortgage position to the city as collateral.

In a lengthy explanation, City Attorney Tom Manion told Mr. Wall and the Council the history of the building contracts, noting that the cheese operators should not have borrowed against the building.

Councilman Kevin Drake affirmed this when he added that River Valley Cheese violated its contract with the City when it borrowed money against the building.

In the end, it was explained to Mr. Wall by several members of the City Council that the cheese factory building is one of the sites identified as a possible location for the Citys new Art Center.

Mr. Wall, who said that Cashton, Wisconsin is a small community like Lanesboro, reassured the Council that he had come before them with respect, noting that Lanesboro is looked upon as a model for economic development.

Alley parking

The Council also held a lengthy discussion with police Chief John Carlin about a parking ordinance for the Citys alleys. The Council has been dealing with this issue since the beginning of the year when Carlins office ticketed a citizens car that was parked in an alley.

Councilman Hal Cropp asked Carlin, "What is the intent of having no parking in the alley?" Cropp emphasized that there must be public safety criteria for establishing the no alley parking law or the ordinance would be over punitive. Cropp advocated setting a minimum width that must be kept open in each alley. He is also a strong proponent of consistent enforcement of a parking law.

City Attorney Manion entered the conversation with his idea for an ordinance. Manion suggested that the ordinance read that no car might have any of its wheels on the paved portion of the alley when parked.

Councilmen Cropp agreed that this approach might work, but that there may have to be some exceptions for some downtown businesses.

Other Business

The Council voted not to hire another part-time police officer for the City. Chief Carlin had requested that the City sponsor a police trainee through a part-time position, but the Council didnt agree with the Chief that there was a need for additional help.

On the recommendation of the City Attorney Manion, the Council voted to sign the contract with George Sutton to prepare a comprehensive business plan for the Regional Art Center Commission. The plan will detail the costs of the proposed project, and will establish a management/governance plan for the users of the center.

The Council also held a lengthy discussion on the hydroelectric plant and the adjoining spillway. The flood of 2000 deposited a large amount of silt and sediment in the spillway that prohibits operation of the plant.

The City is trying to decide the value of its hydroelectric generation capability with respect to the costs of cleaning out the spillway. There was an exchange of opinions on the benefits of the city operating its own hydro plant, but in the end there wasnt any conclusion and the issue was passed back to the Utilities Board to make a recommendation.

By Mike McGrath

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