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Preston considers State Building Code

Fri, Aug 10th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Preston City Council members had an opportunity to learn more about the advantages or disadvantages of adopting the State Building Code at their August 6 meeting. Jay Kruger of Construction Management Services of Rochester briefed the council on the code and inspections and answered member questions.

Kruger explained that the code would generally apply to new construction only or a new addition to an existing structure. Remodeling of existing homes would be exempt. It would not apply to small garden sheds or low unattached decks. He has four inspectors in his office and they inspect on 24 hour notice. Mayor Kurt Reicks was concerned about "do it yourselfers" that work on a weekend project. Kruger noted that some planning to have, for example, footings for a deck inspected prior to a weekend job would be prudent. Kruger suggested an effort is made to accommodate weekend "do it yourselfers."

Mr. Kruger disagrees with the concern that the code increases the cost of a project. Any licensed contractor is bound by the code. His inspectors work strictly by the hour. Financial institutions are assured by the inspections when offering a loan. His people also try to educate the public out in the field. He added that a homeowner can do any of the building work themselves except for connecting their electrical service.

Council member Robert Sauer suggested that there are three common objections to the code including cost, time delays, and the fact the code represents a 'minimal standard.' Kruger insisted that the code will level the playing field as some contractors exceed the standard, some meet the standard, and others fail to meet the standard. Sauer emphasized that the city cannot pick or choose parts of the code, but must take the whole code. Kruger noted, however, that a city may choose to add to the code to cover swimming pools and hot tubs, for example.

Council members agreed to table the issue until Tuesday, September 4.

Forestville Trail

Council member Sauer has been meeting property owners Vern Ristau and John Snyder in an effort to complete a plan for the trail from Preston to Forestville Park. They have met several times over the past five months. A six month period was offered by the council in February as a time period to work out something with the land owners to avoid the imposition of eminent domain to acquire the land needed for a trail.

Sauer explained that a possible alternate route was suggested by the Ristau and Snyder families which in landscape architect Dale Willie's opinion would require 4000 feet of switchbacks from John Snyder's property to Darrell Ray's property. Sauer noted that shortly before the council meeting Ray had informed him that he was not interested in making this property available for the trail. Ray has already sold some land to the DNR. After months of contacts and discussion, the acquisition of property for the completion of the trail is still at a stalemate.

A lot of the difficulty in finding a feasible alternate route is due to the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) rule that trails may not have more than a five percent grade. The terrain in this area near Forestville limits those possibilities.

Sauer insisted that he was just a liaison for the council and was not there to negotiate with the parties, but to listen. Mayor Reicks added that he was just trying to make the trail a reality to benefit the city and that in the process wanted to make everyone happy. He admitted that this alternate route is probably a dead end.

Kay Ristau said that Dale Willie has his mind made up and questioned whether another architect or engineer could be consulted. David Joerg defended Willie who was not present and said that he was very experienced with trails. Scott Ristau asked if anyone had considered bringing the trail into the park at the horse camp. John Snyder complained that now there is only a month left to work it out.

The council agreed to look at an additional route going south through the Schmidt property and coming into Forestville the back way.

The issue will be revisited at the council's September 4 meeting. Sauer will continue to meet with the parties involved.

Tennis Court

City Attorney David Joerg presented the latest lease agreement with the Fillmore Central School District for building the new tennis courts on school property. City Administrator Joe Hoffman said that he hoped to get major work for the courts completed before school starts. The lease was approved by the council and will still need to be approved by the school district's attorney. The council gave the go ahead to start the project as soon as the school district's attorney gives final approval of the lease.

The project is estimated to cost $122,000 to $130,000. Over $100,000 has been raised. Hoffman made clear the need for upwards of $8,000 more from fund raising.

Community Center

At the July 16 council meeting Francis Galles had asked the council about the possibility of getting a Community Center in Preston. The Harmony Homes Building next to City Hall is for sale and was looked at by Jon Haugan, David Harrison, and Joe Hoffman. Hoffman suggested that structural issues would have to be addressed by an engineer. He added that the council should look at the possibility of new construction. Reicks felt that there could be a parking problem with the Harmony Homes Building.

Kay Laging expressed the need for such a center by numerous groups in town. The Preston Historical Society sent a letter to the council encouraging the council to obtain a space for use as a community center.

Andy Bisek insisted, that before discussing building new or remodeling an old building, the council needs to determine what is needed and plan from that point. Galles added that we basically want the council to start the process.

Reicks said that this is a very preliminary discussion. Council members decided to advertise to get interested citizens to serve on a committee to determine the city's needs and to determine how to satisfy those needs.

2007 Street Improvement Bond

Mike Bubany explained that there were five bidders for the bond. The low bid, by Conan and Co., was approved by the council. Bubany noted that the interest rate will be 4.2%. It was projected that the rate would be 4.5%. The difference will save the city $13,000 over the life of the bond.

Meeting Rescheduled

The second council meeting in August will be held on August 27.

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