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Harmony Council discusses Community Center renovations


Fri, Feb 15th, 2008
Posted in Government

The Harmony City Council meeting on February 12 included a lot of discussion on the upcoming projects needed at the Community Center, for the building itself as well as the parking lot and driveway.

The city is planning on putting two heating units into each room at the Community Center and eventually shut down the boilers altogether. They will also have to find a way to heat the gym and hallways. There are currently two rooms in the building with the PTAC heating units in them. City employees made a chart showing how much energy and money has been spent heating those rooms for December, and so far the units have proved to be cost-effective.

The council discussed ways to financing putting these units in every room, as well as the work done replacing the windows and reconstructing outside walls. The project will save the city a lot of energy costs in the long run. An architect from Bonestroo came and took pictures of the building. City Administrator Jerome Illg is working on an application for a loan from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), which helps out rural communities. The loan the city is seeking will be at 4.5 percent interest, and will include the cost of the parking lot renovations. Wanting to aim high rather than low, they are asking for $400,000 total.

"The reason we're going with USDA is to protect the reserves and manage cash flow," said council member Linda Grover. She added that the energy savings would help pay for the loan over time.

The estimate from Bonestroo for the parking lot work came in at $136,000. That price includes repaving the parking lot and the driveway, replacing the curb and gutter and sidewalk on the southeast corner and fixing water flow and drainage issues in the area. There would be a small section of gravel near the lot for runoff parking and for snow during snow removal.

Mayor Dave Kingsley brought up the option of having the pavement ground up and laid back down again. Illg had previously estimated this option at $50,000, but it did not include any catch basins. Illg stated that if they went with that option, the current curb and gutter would not match up, and would cause problems. Also, the water drainage problem would not get solved.

"Well it's not ideal," said council member Gerald Shuck. "But is it good enough?"

Shuck also mentioned cutting down the size of the project, getting the price under $50,000 so it would not have to be bid out, and they could just take proposals. City employee Chris Johnson asked about putting a couple of catch basins near the problem area on the southeast corner, along with some drain tile. There has been a problem with standing water right outside the front door of the city offices.

Illg is going to further look into some costs for grinding the pavement, and Johnson will check out the costs for purchasing some catch basins. There will be a special meeting held with the council and the engineer from Bonestroo on February 26 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be to discuss the bids and approve a plan to put out for bid.

Planning and Zoning Request

Jean Ingvalson of Mabel came before the council to talk about her plans for opening a business in Harmony, as well as make a request for an exception in the zoning ordinance. The council approved her request.

Ingvalson and her husband Terry would like to put up a building in Harmony's Industrial Park and open an Antique Mall. Ingvalson explained that they have owned the Village Furniture and Flooring in Mabel for 20 years, and recently opened up a fitness center. They would now like to have their children take over the Mabel businesses and start a new one in Harmony.

"You have the tourism here, and it would be on the main highway," said Ingvalson.

The mall would have spots for people to rent to sell their antiques, and Ingvalson and her husband would like to live in a small apartment above it, as an added security measure. The Planning and Zoning Board requested the council's approval to make a "special exception."

City Attorney Richard Nethercut said the ordinance states the dwelling has to be for business purposes only. The special exception would stay with Ingvalson, and if someone else purchased the building in the future, they would have to apply for another exception.

Snow Plow Truck

Johnson suggested that the city employees get someone involved from the council to make a committee. The committee would discuss options in regards to purchasing a new snow plow truck. Johnson had looked into some prices for new trucks and they were running approximately $80-100,000 for the cab and chassis, and around $50,000 for the equipment. The committee, which will consist of Johnson, Illg, another city employee, and council member Robert Smith, will do more research and decide whether buying a new plow truck is the most cost-effective, or if they can do work on the one they currently have.

Other business

The EDA (Economic Development Authority) has been discussing what to do with the former mobile home park that is now owned by the city. According to Grover, they would like to advertise for proposals until the end of March, to see what kind of interest there is in the property and what plans people might have. She thought that adjacent property owners could possibly work together for an agreement for part of the lot.

The sheriff's department was at the meeting to discuss parking issues on 1st Ave. southeast. In December a group of people came before the council to complain about people parking in front of driveways and fire hydrants on that street, especially during school hours and evening events at the high school. There were four parking tickets issued in January and two more this month, according to them, and things are getting better. The school has also been helping crack down on parking violations.

The council approved the following:

• A 3.2 liquor license for Kwik Trip

• The Fillmore Central post-prom party at the fire hall

• Firearms safety training at the fire hall.

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