A number of the Lanesboro Friends of the Library group were in attendance at the February 5 Lanesboro City Council meeting to speak on behalf of the library. Anna Loney distributed a compilation of comments about the library collected from community members to the council. She thanked the council for taking the time to read through the various reasons why people value the library. Jon Buggs also spoke about the library board, noting that the board is self-governing. He questioned why the city had installed a council member on the library board at last month’s council meeting without discussing it with the board, especially since there were more applicants than open positions. He said that the library will be 100 years old in 2026 and never before has a city council member been assigned to be a voting member of the library board. “In the future, transparency, I think, is critical,” he said.
Scott Taylor addressed the council about the lack of continued business on the agenda about the Filthy 50 street closure request which was tabled at last month’s meeting. He noted that the event has been successfully held in Lanesboro for the last five years, and that it has been a benefit to the city and its businesses.
Scandinavian Inn B&B owner Vicki Chambard Torkelson noted that she was also a member of the Lanesboro Friends of the Library and that she appreciated the extended hours at the library as that had often been beneficial to her. She also said that the B&B had guests staying at the inn each year specifically for the Filthy 50 Bike Ride. “It’s been a very positive event for our business,” she commented.
The consent agenda was approved and included the accounts payable, the 2024 lodging licenses, the 2023 audit engagement from Smith Schafer, and Resolutions 2024-13 and 14 appointing election judges.
Sandra Webb submitted a request to the council that domestic violence information signs be displayed in public restrooms. She shared several examples of the signs with the council. Domestic violence affects one in three women and one in seven men, and there are a variety of reasons why an individual would stay in that situation. Council member Mindy Albrecht-Benson, joining the meeting via Zoom from Florida, asked if there was guidance in the city policies on what can and cannot be posted in public places, adding that she was in support of the aforementioned signs, but that she wanted to look at the bigger picture as well. City Administrator Mitchell Walbridge said that while there are no official rules, the city staff is diligent to ensure that things posted are appropriate. A motion allowing the signs was approved.
Albrecht-Benson gave the public utilities report. The new wastewater treatment plant continues to be monitored to ensure that it is running smoothly. The email platform for utility bills should be ready to roll out for the March billing cycle. The electric meter replacements are under way.
The Planning and Zoning Commission met with the owners of the Driftless Trading Post food truck that was formerly by the brewery. They are looking into the possibility of moving it to the empty lot where the train car used to sit. The commission also discussed the use of street level buildings in the commercial district and how that could be affected by Airbnbs and other things of that nature. The council will discuss the matter further at their March meeting.
The Heritage Preservation Commission approved modifications in the Parkway Market building. They are changing from quarterly to monthly meetings and will meet on the second Monday of each month at 5 p.m.
Lanesboro Library Director Tara Johnson presented the library stats from the 2023 annual report. Mayor Resseman asked if the overall numbers are showing gains. Johnson said that there were significant losses during the pandemic, but that the numbers are going back up now.
The council reviewed the amended agreement with Sparrow Valley Development. Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the agreement. Due to setbacks, the project completion date was moved from December 31, 2023, to May 31, 2024. The council approved a motion to approve the amended agreement pending the payment of legal fees.
An application was received for a simple lot split from Sparrow Valley Properties. Planning and Zoning had previously held a public hearing where no objections were heard. The council approved the application.
The fire department obtained quotes for replacing their oldest tanker truck and found that a new one would cost between $265,000 and $345,000. A more cost efficient option would be to purchase a new chassis and install the tank and body from the old chassis on it at a savings of about $165,000 to $175,000. The new one wouldn’t be received until the end of the year and then a few more months of work would be needed to finish it with the tank and body. The council approved the bid.
The Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce is now classified as a 501c3. The city has acted as the chamber’s fiscal agent in the past and approved a motion to do so again.
Preston Police Chief Blaise Sass had planned to be at the meeting to discuss a public safety day request with the council, but was unable to make it. The matter was tabled until next month so the council could ask Sass questions.
AT&T has a lease agreement with the city allowing the company to utilize the water tower for its signaling devices. The current lease is good through 2047, but AT&T would like to extend it to 2057 as well as make a few other changes. City engineer Brian Malm and city attorney Joseph O’Koren both recommended declining the changes to keep the city’s best interests as a priority. The council approved the recommendation.
A committee was set up to address the grievance letter received from a former Lanesboro Public Library employee. As of now, the committee is still working out times to meet and will keep the council updated as it progresses.
The next Lanesboro city council meeting will be held on March 4 at 6 p.m.