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Paynesville Press - March 29, 2006

City council considers new development

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, March 22.

•The council approved a concept plan for the North Paynesville Development. which is a 200-acre development on the north side of the Crow River. Jason Ferche of Ferche Development, LLC, presented the plan to the council. The development calls for 178 residential lots, 17 acres of commerical/office, 13 acres of industrial, six acres of apartments (or commercial), and 43 acres of park.

•The council was updated on the process for hiring a new city administrator by Mayor Jeff Thompson. The city received 10 applications, said Thompson, reviewed them, and found six to be qualified.

Follow-up questionaires have been sent to these six, due at the end of the month. The city committee is scheduled to meet in early April and review these questionaires and the applications.

At that point, the committee is expected to make recommendations to the council for interviews.

The council also discussed the merits of background checks. Interim administrator and public works director Ron Mergen told the council that Sauk Center had hired a licensed investigator who charged $1,200-$1,500. This cost, the council agreed, would be worth insuring a good candidate.

Thompson did ask if this cost might be a factor, depending on how many candidates the council wishes to interview.

Councilor Jeff Bertram added that, should none of the current candidates be found suitable, the city might still need to reopen advertisements and even hire a recruiter. Councilor Tom Lindquist said that the city should not pinch pennies when hiring a new administrator. "I feel very strongly this is worth the investment," he said.

•The council was informed that they had received no formal notice of the Highway 23 proposals from MnDOT. Once these are received, the formal process for municipal consent will begin. Once received, the first step of municipal consent will be for the city to set a public hearing on the proposed plans.

•The council approved ordering plans and specifications to be developed and bids advertised for the section of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail from the city to the west end of Old Lake Road, which connects to the city beach (Veteran's Memorial Park).

This section of trail, to be constructed in 2006, is estimated to cost $390,000 with a federal grant covering $261,000 of that. The city and township have agreed to break the remaining costs on a 75:25 split, which would mean approximately $90,000 for the city and $30,000 for the township, which has already built two sections of trail.

The city and township hope to receive a DNR grant to help cover that costs after the federal grant. The easements for this section of trail, said Bertram, are nearly done.

•The council approved having city engineer Bolten & Menk to prepare a preliminary engineering drawing for the section of trail from the east end of Old Lake Road to the south shore of Lake Koronis for $2,000. The trail committee plans to apply for another federal grant in 2010 for this section of the trail and needs engineering as part of the application, said Bertram, who also serves as a paid consultant for the trail. This section would link with Old Lake Road, and follow Highway 55, Highway 4, and CSAH 20 around the inlet, outlet, and south shore of Koronis. It would link with a section of trail around the west end and along the south shore being planned by the city, township, and Meeker and Stearns counties.

•The council approved proceeding with a possible land purchase on the north side of the airport runway. An eight-acre parcel is for sale, and the council agreed that this might be desirable for the airport to have, since the city will lose land due to the new Highway 23 route and since any hangars will need to be located on the north side of the runway (because taxiing across the runway is not allowed).

•The council approved a new tree ordinance, which brings all the city's requirements regarding trees back into a single ordinance, said Mergen. With new developments on the horizon, this is aimed at a help to developers and new homeowners needing to know these requirements. Changes to the ordinance include only a four-foot setback (rather than six feet) for planting trees from curbs and sidewalks, which will allow trees to be planted in city boulevards.

And residents now will only have ten days of notice of a diseased tree requiring removal before city staff remove the tree and the resident is assessed the cost. A shorter time was needed to prevent the spread of disease, said Mergen.

•The council approved amending an ordinance and passed a resolution relating to street lighting. The first added street lighting as a requirement to the subdivision ordinance. The resolution limited the city's share of street lighting costs to 50 percent; the city had paid these costs in full before.

•The council heard a brief update about the Paynesville Area Hospital District, which operates as the Paynesville Area Health Care System, from CEO Steve Moburg. The public hospital was started in 1956 as a city facility and ownership was transferred in 1992 to the district (now five townships and seven cities). PAHCS representatives make annual trips to the governing boards of the various entites to report on PAHCS's progress.

•The council was notified of two letters from the Bureau of Mediation Services, ordering a status quo for employee hours, wages, and duties. City employees are considering unionizing with American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (Council 65 in Nashwauk).

Thompson said the city is expecting another packet soon and "we'll be bringing everyone into the loop when we figure out what the loop is."

Bertram called the city wage and benefit schedule "one of the best kept secrets in Paynesville" and said city residents could get a copy of this public information at city hall.

In 2006, city employees were given a one percent cost-of-living adjustment in wages.

•The council was informed by Mergen that the Paynesville Fire Department intended to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Administration grant for grassfighting equipment (coats, gloves, pants) as well as some new radios for a total of $28,898. Last year, the department applied for a FEMA grant for a tanker, but was denied, and they changed to protective equipment this year due to direction from FEMA. If successful, the fire department would have to cover 20 percent of the costs.

•The council was informed by Mergen that the city is in contact with the MPCA about a recent compliance survey of the city's sewer system. Two of the items appear to be minor in nature, while the city has informed the MPCA that its contract with Quality Check Plastics - from which plastic material entered the city sewer, leading the MPCA to cite the city for failure to control and impose pretreatment requirements - has not been renewed. The city is also negotiating improvements with Master Mark Plastics, whose current contract expires on May 1, 2006.

•The council approved closing Washburne Avenue by the Gazebo Park for Bulldog Field Day on Friday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The elementary students and their parents eat lunch in the park during their field day, and the street closing is intended for safety reasons during their crossing for lunch.

•The council tabled holding a special joint meeting with the design team committee on Thursday, April 20, in order to meet with Dan Frank of the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation to discuss applying for the Healthy Community Grant. The city has shown interest in applying for this program in advance of a return visit by the Minnesota Design Team, hopefully in the spring of 2007.

Council members had conflicts with this date and preferred either Monday, April 17, or Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. but did not make a decision until contacting Frank.

•The council approved the low bid of $1,595 from Precision Electric of Paynesville for the installation of a new warning siren. This was the lowest bid of four received. The bids ranged from $1,595 to $4,000. The city has purchased a third warning signal to better cover the west end of the city (including the proposed Highway 23 route and the WilGlo Acres Addition).

•The council approved a bid from Louis Nurseries to supply 30 trees for the 2006 Street Improvement Project for $3,900. This was the lowest of three bids for replacement trees for homeowners.

The council was also informed that $1.1 million from their bond issue for the project had been received and that the contractor expected to start work on the project in early April.

•The council accepted the low bid from Warren Nehring for $3,775 for the construction of three downtown tree planters. His was the low bid from two received.

•The council approved rehiring John Loven and Kenny Albright as part-time season employees for the Public Works Department. Loven will work for 24 weeks, not to exceed 40 hours per week, and Albright will work for 24 weeks, not to exceed 32 hours per week.

•The council appointed Christine Flugga to the park and tree board, replacing Tom Koshiol, who had resigned.

•The council approved a refuse license for West Central Sanitation, Inc., for $50 (with councilor Jeff Bertram, who works for West Central Sanitation, abstaining).

•The council approved on-sale 3.2-beer licenses for the Koronis Lanes and Alco Discount Stores for $100 each.#149;#149;

The council approved a final payment to Randy Kramer Excavating, Inc., in the amount of $33,888 for work on the 2005 irrigation project.

•The council tabled an invoice from SEH for $14,500 relating to legal fees for the aiport condemnation. Most of these bills dated back to 2004, and the council asked staff to check the hours and work.

•The council approved purchasing 10,000 pounds of crack sealing and to rent the necessary equipment from Brock White Company, LLC, for one week with the city of Melrose to do crack sealing this year. The cost is quoted at $5,633.85, with the city's share is $2,816.93.

•The council approved an invoice of $2,556 from North American Salt Company for two year's worth of road salt.

•The council approved a payment of $635 to Zimmerman Computer Consulting for various computer services at city hall. Councilor Dennis Zimmerman abstained.

•The council approved closing city hall on Monday, Oct. 9, for annual safety training. City staff traditionally hold the safety training on Columbus Day.

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