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Lanesboro looks at arts campus project


Fri, Jul 11th, 2014
Posted in Lanesboro Government

Courtney Bergey attended the Lanesboro City Council meeting on July 7 to speak to the council about the Arts Campus Project.

Bergey works for the Lanesboro Arts Council, and they have been working on a plan that will create better signage around town and on the bike trails for visitors. They have been working in conjunction with the Park Board and taking into account the Chamber’s Strategic Plan and the City’s 20/20 plan to reach their goals.

The Arts Council has been doing a lot of fundraising for this project and they have received grants. They worked with a signage consultant from the Twin Cities who helped develop a plan for the area.

According to Bergey, there will be a kiosk with trail information in the parking lot, and it will take up two parking spaces. There will also be photo poetry signs with poems from local people attached to light posts. An information sign will be placed near the bike trail in the downtown area, and a sign near the historic walking bridge that will include the history of the bridge.

“We’ve been working on these concepts the past year,” said Bergey. “There will be no cost to the city, we did all the fundraising.”

Bergey added they want to make sure to get the project done soon before the deadline for the grant money. The council approved the project. Work will be finished within the next month before the September 1 deadline.

Dam Project

Dave Bubany was at the meeting to discuss further options for funding the dam project.

The city could use a tax abatement bond to fund the remainder of the cost, they could ask the voters for a referendum, or get a variation of the utility related General Obligation Bonds.

If utilities were increased to fund the project, monthly utility rates would increase significantly. If the levy was increased, the property taxes on a home worth $100,000 would increase $20 a month. A bond for the remaining amount of $1.75 million, at an interest rate of four percent paid over 20 years would result in a yearly payment of $129,000. None of these options seem likely for the city.

The DNR did give the city an extension on the grant money, which gives the city until June 2015 to come up with ideas to fund the project.

Church Hill

Dan Anderson approached the council again regarding the parking lot at Church Hill Condominiums. He has abandoned the idea of asking the city to vacate the property. He would still like the parking lot to be blacktopped. Anderson had previously assumed the cost would be split with the city 50/50.

Todd asked if this was something necessary, or it was just for aesthetics purposes. There has been no issue with snow removal in that parking lot.

Mayor Steven Rahn brought up the issue of the city paying for blacktopping private property. “I hoped we could just vacate and not have to deal with that,” he said.

Rahn felt they should consult with street superintendent Andy Drake before making any decisions, and they will then call a special meeting.

Theresa Coleman from the Public Utilities Commission reminded the city there is an ordinance that says he must provide two parking spaces for each unit.

River Gauge

Ken Soiney, owner of River Rats Outfitters, and Mark Welvaert from the National Weather Service were at the meeting to discuss a grant opportunity. Lanesboro could receive a grant from the DNR for a new river gauge. The average cost for a new gauge is $28,000. The University of Iowa engineering program could give the city a large discount on equipment and installation, dropping the cost to $7,500. The DNR grant could cover up to 75 percent of that.

The city will look into the stipulations of the grant to see if it would be possible to purchase the equipment from another state.

The city would benefit from a new river gauge that could be read via radio waves. This would send real-time accurate readings to a cell phone.

Ambulance

Ambulance Director Lee Peterson asked the council to approve the vaccination screening policy, which says all members must receive the Hepatitis B vaccination. This policy will be in compliance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Peterson then asked for consent to start looking for a new ambulance facility. He said a committee has been formed but they haven’t settled on any certain location.

Councilor Ceil Allen asked about the need for a new location. Peterson said the number one concern is reducing response time. Currently, most of the ambulance members live on the south side of town and it takes longer to reach the ambulance shed.

Todd added the ambulance is sharing space with the street shop, in a place that is tricky to get in and out of. “Clearly there is a need,” he said.

It could also be a good place for storage, meetings, and training. The council gave their permission to move forward.

DNR lease

Todd updated the council on the negotiations regarding the lease the DNR has in the Chamber building. Previously, the DNR wanted to pay $5 per square foot. The city requested $15 per square foot as per lease rates in other office buildings, which would come out to $300 per month on a five-year lease. The DNR came back with $5.64 per square foot. This would include utilities, and they would like new carpet installed at the city’s expense.

Todd and Manion looked at the issue and came up with a counter offer of $6.30 per square foot. Todd will speak with the negotiator and get back to the council at the next meeting.

Public Utilities

Theresa Coleman from the Public Utilities Commission said they have taken care of the past due utility bills. The well is being re-drilled in a new location, and things are going well.

Coleman also informed the council they could be receiving funds from the USDA in the amount of $30,000 for a feasibility study on the new wastewater treatment facility project that is a few years down the road.

Street/Park Superintendent Position

Andy Drake, the streets and park superintendent, has resigned from his position of park superintendent. Todd said there is an internal applicant who is interested in the position.

It was noted that the change in position means a deduction in pay. Drake was given a raise when he took on the duties of park superintendent.

City Attorney Tom Manion suggested they make sure Drake knows about the wage difference before they accept his resignation, and before offering the position to someone else.

The council accepted his resignation, but will be informing him of the wage decrease. The resignation is effective July 17.

Library

David Hennessey, Chair of the Library Board or Directors, gave a quarterly update of what has been going on at the public library.

Hennessey shared the sixth annual Rhubarb Run was very successful, with 134 runners. The net amount raised was $1,500.

The library has received a grant from SEMAC (Southeast Minnesota Arts Council) for $6,900 to have a mural painted in the library entryway. The theme of the mural will be Libraries Grow Community, and for the first phase of the project, a survey will be given to community members looking for ideas.

Library Director Tara Johnson said the Summer Reading Program is going very well, with 90 kids attending story time each week, 151 participating in family events, and 35 kids committed to meet reading goals this summer. She mentioned some of the fun activities going on this summer, including a Lego building contest, which can be seen on the library’s Facebook page.

Heritage Preservation

Commission

Todd informed the council the HPC district expansion project should be finalized by the September deadline.

Todd also updated the council on the issue with the signage at Merchants Bank. They had a six-month grace period to find new signage that is historically accurate according to the HPC ordinance, but do not wish to make any changes. They were granted an additional month to make changes.

Other Business

The council approved blocking off the alley behind Parkway Pub for Buffalo Bill Days activities. Pub owner Vince Jeannette said they will be having two bands play that evening, one from 6-9, and one from 9-12.

The council approved going out for bids as part of the second phase of the water treatment facility project.

The council passed a resolution approving election judges.

The new playground installation will begin this week.

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