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Lanesboro City Council

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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Concerns raised about damBy John TorgrimsonMonday, March 12, 2001

The historic Lanesboro dam was the topic of some concern at Mondays Lanesboro City Council meeting.

The hydro-electric plant has not been able to generate electricity since flooding occurred last summer causing significant silting.

Council member Kevin Drake, who sits on the Public Utilities Commission, said that one estimate places the cost of removing silt at $56,000. In addition, he said, bids for new switching gear are around $30,000.

The hydro-dam produces approximately .2 megawatts of electricity per year and is used by Dairyland Power to generate extra electricity during peak periods. While the hydro-dam was operable prior to flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would not cover the cost of silt removal because the city could not document the build-up of silt over time.

Council member Hal Cropp said that he believes that the dam is vulnerable to outside pressure for its removal if it is not producing hydro-electricity.

Cropp said that he was contacted by a person from Trout Unlimited and told that the Bucksnort dam (Pilot Mound) and Lanesboro dam were being targeted by the group for removal. He said that conservation groups have been lobbying authorities in several states, including Minnesota, for removal of old dams

The recent removal of the Stewartville dam was cited as an example of dams being removed in the area.

The council tabled any action regarding the dam until there was a full council, as members Peggy Hanson and John Dollar were absent from the meeting.

The day after the council met, the Journal contacted Bob Bizek, Area Hydrologist for the DNR, about this issue. Bizek said that many of the dams in the area were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s to generate power or for milling.

In many instances, the purpose these dams were built for is no longer valid, he said. So, when it is time to make repairs to these dams is the time to consider their removal.

Bizek said that this is occurring in Wisconsin with some frequency. But he went on to say that there are social concerns to be considered as well.

It would be hard to imagine Lanesboro without their dam, he said.

Bizek went on to say that the decision to remove the dam at Stewartville was a community decision, not one imposed upon them by the DNR.

In the case of Lanesboro, it really is the citys choice of what they want to do with the dam, Bizek said. As far as I know, they own the dam..

Bizek acknowledged that dams are an impediment to fish migration and that many recreation and conservation groups would like to see them removed. But he said there is no active push on the part of DNR to remove any dams.

In fact, we dont even know who owns the Bucksnort dam, he said. Whoever owns the park probably owns the dam, confirming that the DNR has not made any plans for its removal.
Alley Parking Revisited

There was some disagreement between council members and Chief of Police John Carlin on how the city would proceed in dealing with alley parking. It was the councils understanding that the city would look at amending the ordinance to allow for parking in alleys, except where the city deems that it is a safety issue. Carlin, on the other hand, thought that the matter could continue to be handled with police officers using their own discretion.

Hal Cropp said that this is not the best way to govern, saying that the ordinance presently calls for no parking in alleys and that it needs to be enforced in an honest and fair manner.

Kevin Drake joined Cropp in calling for the city attorney, chief of police and city administrator to look at amending the ordinance. This includes having the street department, police and fire department survey the alleyways in the city to identify exceptions where parking would not be allowed.
Regional Loan Fund

Terry Erickson, Executive Director of the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation discussed the Regional Loan Fund with the council. The Fund will be used by communities in Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties where Tri-County Electric and Ace Communications operate to finance commercial development. Tri-County will provide $65,000 and Ace $55,000 in match to the Fund.

The Regional Loan Fund will be used as gap funding by communities. In the first year of the program, participating communities will be allowed to apply for one loan per year, not to exceed 10% of the Fund. The council tabled any action until a full council convenes.
Regional Arts Center

The council approved retaining Sutton & Associates to carry out pre-design planning for the proposed Regional Arts Center at a cost of $36,000.

The firm was the only bid received by the Regional Arts Center Commission for the project. Sutton & Associates will work directly with the Bonding Committee from the commission, and will complete all necessary documentation to meet state bonding requirements for the arts center.

The council would like a representative from Mediacom to come to a future meeting to discuss cable service in the community as well as the proposed rate increase.

The council approved the preliminary plat for the Grand Fayette Estates subdivision to be built in Holt Township.

The council has agreed to hold a joint meeting with the Whalan City Council regarding the two-mile subdivision authority that both cities have.

The council voted to proceed with condemnation proceedings on a portion of the Lodahl property located on the corner of Coffee Street and Highway 16. The property falls in the right of way for the Coffee Street road project.

The council retained WHK Engineering of Rochester to carry out design work on the Coffee Street Walking Bridge. The firm was hired at a cost not to exceed $8,000.

By John Torgrimson

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