The February 10 Peterson Council meeting covered an array of topics and it seemed like many wishfully leaned towards warmer weather.
First up, during citizen comments, Joseph Kochen and Nancy Olson asked the council whether or not there was any interest in the possibility of a community garden on city property. The two who are newer to town, according to Clerk Chris Grindland, have been looking at what other municipalities do, noting that many rent out plots to interested individuals.
Olson suggested possibly 10 to 20 plots. “We thought we should see if the interest is there,” she said. “We thought, ‘Let’s bring it up and see.’” Care of the plots would be the responsibility of renters and it was suggested the garden could be open from May 1 to August 15.
Grindland noted it was a good idea and Mayor Tim Hallum suggested the two meet with him to pursue options.
“We can start small and see what happens,” added Olson.
Talk of the new welcome sign on the Root River State Trail was also discussed this meeting. The city has been looking for ideas for the sign for some time. The current sign needs an update, but the city did add a large, colorful gnome statue next to it in recent years. Councilor Gail Boyum, who’s been leading the charge on the sign, asked whether anyone had suggested themes or budget ideas. “I think some kind of a Norwegian flavor would be fun, if we could do it.”
Councilor Dave Colbenson suggested looking up Nowegian sayings to compliment the city’s heritage. The sign would likely be double-sided so as to catch the eye of traffic from either direction. It was suggested the council do a little more digging, including looking into the offerings of Gopher Sign Company, Kelly Printing, and metal work from Connaughty Industries. There is funding available through Rushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce for wayfinding signs, but it was unclear how much or to what extent it could be used.
Grindland noted he would like a concrete pad for the sign and gnome, as current pavers leave a “cheesy” look. Pavers are currently under the gnome and need to be moved each winter. “If we somehow centered the sign around the gnome to have to let people know it’s Peterson. Everyone stops and takes pictures with the gnome,” he added. Friends of Peterson, a group that works to promote the city, will discuss options as well, but the city is looking for all input from the community.
Talk then turned to the city-wide cleanup, after the council okayed a new $.50 per month per tote charge to compensate for administrative costs. The city didn’t hold a cleanup in 2020 and the spring 2021 cleanup will not be happening due to the ongoing pandemic. “It’s the one time when people can bring all their junk. If we have empty space in the dumpster, and I know I’ve asked for this before, but if we want to help people get rid of stuff in their yard, could we give them this opportunity to get rid of it?” asked Boyum.
Hallum noted that garbage is one thing, but people bringing in appliances and electronics is “a whole separate deal.” The rate to get rid of appliances is $25 per item and electronics are $20 per item. The cost is set by the garbage company, not the city. “We’re not here to make money on trash, but since I’ve been on council, I’ve continued to watch us lose money on that. It has to be paid by them not the city,” he said.
Councilor Tracy Seelbinder suggested he may know someone that will come and take the appliances at little to no charge. “It encourages people to bring them in. It might be cheaper to take things to [Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center in] Preston, but they’re not going to.”
The idea of having city staff go around and clean up was also stated, but quickly shot down by Hallum. “We went around and picked up one year. It wasn’t a good deal. If you can’t pick up your own garbage waste and bring it here…” he said. Current rates are $30-50 per truckload (depending on size), $5 for tires (without rims), $20 for electronics, and $25 for appliances. The city can’t accept fluorescent bulbs, liquid paint, hazardous chemicals, or batteries.
“If we do it in a nice time of year, in the fall, maybe we’ll get more, if we tell people to be prepared for it,” noted Boyum. The city will also check with Harter’s Quick Clean-Up to see if they can assist with accommodating pick-up.
Friends of Peterson is planning their summer concert series in the city bandstand. Music is set to kick off July 18 and three concerts are lined up. A donation toward music in the park was awarded to the group in the amount of $3,000. The city is the fiscal agent for the funds.
As a reminder to residents, the city council noted that all sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours after a snowfall. City ordinances regarding removal are on the books. Residents should clear them within the time frame or arrange to have someone do it for them if they cannot do so.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, March 10, at 6 p.m., at city hall. The meeting is open to the public.