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Preston City Council Report: MnDot rep offers advice

Fri, Dec 8th, 2006
Posted in Government

Craig Lenz from MnDot addressed the Preston City Council at their December 5 meeting emphasizing his desire to counsel citizens planning beautification projects for the ponds. Mayor Kurt Reicks was absent.

Lenz repeated numerous times his recommendation to pick an aerator that will best provide the desired aesthetic effect while still preserving the intended function of the ponds. He explained that their function is twofold, to control sediment and pollutants and to provide storm water retention. Pollutants attach themselves to the sediments and settle out.

Lenz insisted that MnDot was not opposed to the fountain. He did state his concerns that a too powerful aerator or pump or one that draws too deep in the pond could make it necessary for the city to clean out the accumulated sediment more often. He suggested that the Fountain Committee work with their supplier to get the most appropriate aerator. Lenz also requested that they work with experts at MnDot to protect the ponds. He stated that he has learned that too much aeration can cause over oxidation of the water. This would cause an undesirable effect of everything growing in the water.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman said that he was concerned about the process. Until the ponds are turned over to the city, which may take a long time, the city may be required to obtain a permit from the state to put either a fountain or a statue in either of the ponds. Hoffman noted that it took eleven months to get approval to place a historical marker in the right of way. Hoffman told Lenz that they hope to install the fountain around May of 2007. Lenz said that it shouldn't be a problem.

Council member Steve Knoepke said that the MPCA required the ponds to be built in order for the highway project to go ahead. Lenz agreed that the PCA doesn't have any rules against fountains in the ponds. He made clear that the PCA wouldn't want water drawn from the bottom of the pond. The committee is looking at a two horsepower aerator that will draw 30 inches down out of a 4 foot pond. The pond's depth would gradually decrease until removing the sediment and cleaning the pond becomes necessary. Lenz pleaded with the city council to let MnDot and their experts be of service to them. He said that both the council and MnDot could learn from the project.

Ron Hanson representing the Fountain Committee asked Lenz questions. Lenz suggested that the committee do it's homework on the fountain and get details from their supplier. Then, they can get an opinion from MnDot's expert. Lenz said that the ponds act as the last protection for local streams. He said that pollutants from a run off area of about 200 to 300 acres need to settle out in the ponds.

The statue for the pond by the Branding Iron Restaurant was discussed briefly. Father Francis Galles noted some of the ideas, ranging from a 30 foot statue of a trout jumping out of the water to a floating structure. Lenz said that when the ideas become more tangible, suggestions to help work out any problems could be offered. He warned that there is a two foot clay liner that needs to be preserved if any footing were to be installed to support a statue.


Council members ran out of patience with the Preston Public Employees Association (PPEA). Hoffman said that nothing has changed. The council had offered a 3% cost of living adjustment (COLA), and the PPEA has asked for a 3.7% increase.

Council member Robert Sauer noted that the federal government is giving 1.8 to 2.2% increases depending on what part of the country employees work in and the cost of living in their area. Sauer stated that the armed forces received a 2.2% increase. He said that 3% is fair and that Fillmore County gave their employees 3%. Hoffman stated that the contract with the PPEA doesn't discuss COLA. However, minutes say that it will be negotiated on an annual basis. Council member Heath Mensink suggested that they should be reminded of the fact that the council has been generous over the last several years. The council unanimously passed a 3% increase for the COLA for the PPEA union employees. Hoffman noted that about half of the city's employees are not union members including police and office workers. A second motion was unanimously passed giving the non union employees the same 3% COLA increase.

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