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Lanesboro City Council hears from local frac mining group

Fri, Aug 10th, 2012
Posted in Lanesboro Government

Several people showed up at the Lanesboro City Council meeting on August 6, 2012, to express concerns about the frac mines potentially coming to the area. Andrew Batstone spoke for the group, saying their biggest concern is the large number of trucks that could be going through town every day, doing damage to the roads, causing a safety hazard, and affecting the town in a negative way.

The group asked to have the city pass a resolution asking the county do a study on the potential impact on the economy of Lanesboro, as well as the surrounding communities.

“If an ordinance goes into effect, they could build things into it restricting where they can go,” said Batstone. “The question is, where do you route those trucks?”

The potential damage of 200-300 trucks a day driving through the town, five to six days a week for several years is unknown, but there are many who feel it could destroy the downtown area and have a very negative impact on tourism, something the city has worked hard on for many years.

Mayor Steve Rahn also mentioned the people who are fighting overseas because of America’s need for oil. Batstone said they are not speaking out against the mining, they would just like it to be done without killing the downtown community.

Frank Wright said the Chamber’s main concern is how many trucks an hour is acceptable? “There is a limit, no matter if you live on a road in the country, or in town, how many trucks a day you can put up with,” said Wright. “It has to do with quality of life, and it has to do with safety. If there are no limits, it could be clustered, and it could have a huge impact.”

Robbie Brokken, who works for the Lanesboro Art Center, said it should be looked at on an emotional level as well, since people have worked so hard for so long to make Lanesboro what it is. “People have moved here because they want to live in this beautiful place,” she said. “If we allow this amount of trucks to go through and destroy the landscape, why keep trying?”

Bryce Dawson commented on the noise pollution of so many trucks going through town every day, and that the noise affects the buildings in town as well. Beth Hennesey said she moved to Lanesboro eight years ago, and she never would have moved here if she had known a frac mine would be nearby. Her home is within hearing and site of the frac mine, and she thinks the community could lose people, and lose people that might move to Lanesboro.

Julie Kiehne, from the Chamber, said that tourism brings $18.7 million every year to Fillmore County.

Council member Ceil Allen made a motion that the city support the Chamber and prepare a resolution for the county commissioners requesting they study the economic impact on Lanesboro and Fillmore County. The motion passed unanimously.

Southern Minnesota

Initiative Foundation

Tim Penny, President and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), gave an annual report to the council. He said SMIF is celebrating 25 years of serving the southern Minnesota area, in which time they have given more than 80 million dollars.

There are two main focuses to the work that SMIF does, and those are early childhood and entrepreneurship. Penny listed a number of different programs, grants and loans they have provided to help out in these areas, as well as 21 communities they have helped to start a Community Fund.

“Over 25 years there are several hundred businesses we’ve assisted,” said Penny. “We have loans for businesses trying to expand, and we’ve assisted banks to help them give loans.”

Penny also mentioned investments they have made in early childhood programs, and mentoring programs. He said 92 percent of their resources come from outside of the area, but eight percent are raised right in southern Minnesota.

Trash on the river

River Rats Outfitter owner Ken Soiney said he recently got some bad press when KTTC spoke about the garbage problem from tubers and canoeists on the river. He said he has put up a no littering sign, as well as adding more trash receptacles.

“I know that 99 percent of the trash comes from the inner tubers,” said Soiney.

Soiney is also concerned with the amount of broken glass he has found and has had to clean up frequently. He asked the city to consider an ordinance banning glass at the entry points to the river, as it has become a serious problem. City Attorney Tom Manion said they can ban it, but they also have to enforce it. Soiney said he has spoken with local law enforcement, and he has their cooperation.

Other Business

Robert Thompson was at the meeting to voice his concerns about the special assessment for Whittier Street. He said he hasn’t seen any discussion in the minutes, and again said he felt the city should remove the assessments on utilities for that project. Manion said he didn’t feel it was in the city’s best interest to revisit the issue. Joe O’Connor said he had spoken with other city administrators and they all assessed the same way. The council chose not to make any changes retroactively to the assessment policy.

Vickerman said Buffalo Bill Days was a success, and it was a good weekend in spite of the rain on Saturday. She said the volunteers did a great job, and they had amazing donations and support from local businesses.

Mayor Rahn said the Park Board replaced the walking bridge at the campground, as the old one was falling apart. He also said the bathhouse was shingled, and another shelter will be getting new shingles soon.

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