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City of Lights fireworks prompt concerns about safety

Nisswa isn’t a hotbed for public forum comments at city council meetings, but three parties brought forward concerns Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Greg and Kari Carlson, owners of Carlson Hardware, and Jim Feil voiced concerns about the City of Lights fireworks that occur the day after Thanksgiving.

Kari Carlson said their concern is with the safety of residents at their business. She cited falling debris and lack of signage and parking during City of Lights, and congested traffic.

The Carlsons suggested moving the fireworks to Nisswa Lake. That would create parking and would allow use of the community center and skating rink during City of Lights.

“The town has gotten too small for these events without proper traffic control and signage ...” she said.

Feil said his home is ground zero for fireworks because he lives just north of the fire hall, and he’s had debris on the roof and broken windows over the years. This year a Norway pine started on fire.

“It’s time to do something about that,” he said.

The council learned a meeting will be held in January to address the topic.

Police Chief Craig Taylor said his officers worked foot patrol and traffic control during the City of Lights. While traffic did get backed up, it moved smoothly though the roundabout.

Another Nisswa resident, Joy Potthoff of Clark Lake Road, shared concerns about the closure of the Highway 371/Clark Lake Road median crossover after the highway road project was completed.

She’s lived on Clark Lake Road for more than 60 years and said it is a hazard to drive north and make a U turn at the traffic light to go to Brainerd, and to do the same at the Sportland Corner stoplight to get back to Clark Lake Road when traveling south. She also worried about response time for emergency vehicles going to Clark Lake Road residences.

She was told the council has the same concerns and would send her letter to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), which decided to close the median crossover for safety reasons. MnDOT did say it would leave the crossover available for emergency vehicles.

The issue will be looked at again in the spring.

Public safety

Police Chief Craig Taylor said the department will receive a $600 donation from the Nisswa American Legion that will be used to buy digital cameras for crime scene evidence collection and documentation.

Police reported 130 calls for service in November. Activity included 24 agency assists, seven criminal citations, seven traffic citations, 47 traffic warnings, five medicals and seven alarms.

The Nisswa Fire Department is receiving fewer medical calls, but still has its share, said Fire Chief Richard Geike.

In other business Dec. 18, the council:

• Approved a new rental agreement and fee schedule for the Nisswa Community Center effective Jan. 1.

• Approved installation of a light at the Nisswa Avenue/Highway 371 intersection. Minnesota Power will install the light with a 150-watt bulb likely the first week of January at no charge and the city will pay $13.77 plus tax per month for the service.

• Accepted a $400 donation from Carlson Hardware to go toward a street identification sign for Nisswa Avenue.

• Learned the city may not have a sewer rate increase this year, but is waiting for information from a financial adviser. The council will revisit this topic in January.

• Learned a conditional use permit was issued to Brainerd Lakes Dock and Lift, which plans to build this spring on a vacant parcel south of Kurilla Real Estate.

• Learned there is still a vacancy on the city’s planning commission/board of adjustment and letters of interest are still being accepted. The city has four applicants.

• Appointed Mayor Brian Lehman and council member Gary Johnson to start the process of union negotiations regarding the union that just formed for city department heads.

• Learned the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce is working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation regarding signage to direct travelers into and out of Nisswa as a result of the Highway 371 construction project that changed the main entrance to downtown.

• Tabled a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency request to install a groundwater monitoring well in Parkway Drive (off Edna Lake Road) right-of-way to get more information.

• Agreed to use up to $45,000 in tax increment financing funds for design fees of the welcome center.

• Approved an annual agreement for 2014 with Heartland Animal Rescue Team at $1.50 per capita, and agreed to review the city’s dog ordinance and its contracts with animal control officer Don Hannahs and Heartland Animal Rescue Team for 2015.

• Set an organizational meeting for 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3, at city hall.

Council member Jan Pierce was absent from the meeting.