The Fourth of July holiday is over, but city council members heard an earful from Crosslake residents upset with the overflow of boaters parking their vehicles and boat trailers near the West Shore Drive boat access and the city’s policy of prohibiting golf carts on city streets.
“No Parking” signs have been installed along West Shore Drive, but a few have been stolen and many boaters ignored the signs anyway, parking in the road rights of way just beneath the remaining “No Parking” signs. Police Chief Erik Lee showed dashboard camera footage that one of his officers filmed last weekend of vehicles and boat trailers parked in the ditches.
But Lee explained to council members that it isn’t illegal for drivers to park in the road rights of way, as long as the vehicles aren’t touching the pavement and don’t hinder emergency vehicles.
Three residents in that neighborhood told the council they are concerned about public safety. Tim Preim, who lives on nearby Sun Rise Boulevard, told the council that these traffic problems continue all summer. Over the holiday weekend, he said one boater left a trailer in the ditch for five days, while another boater took up five parking spots at the boat access. Preim said overnight parking shouldn’t be allowed at the access.
Lee said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources owns the boat access, so the city has no jurisdiction there. He emphasized that it is difficult for the city’s police force to monitor these boat accesses when it has 66 miles of city streets to patrol, not including county roads, within the city limits.
Mayor David Nevin said he respects the feelings of those who live near the boat access, but “it’s just the mayhem that goes on in this town a couple times a year.”
Lee said the simplest solution is to open more street parking in that area. The council agreed to close parking on nearby narrow side streets, including Sun Rise Island Road and the residential side of Sun Rise Boulevard, and clear out brush on the other side of the boulevard to create more parking in the right of way to handle overflow from the boat access parking lot.
Lee told the council he will make sure officers issue citations when warranted. Citations will be mailed to the vehicle owners, rather than placed on the vehicles.
Public Works Director Ted Strand said there is a lengthy wait for signs to be ordered, so it may take some time before the “No Parking” signs are installed. He said there are only two sign companies in the state and they are backlogged.
Strand noted that at least 18 “No Parking” and other city signs have been stolen along Manhattan Beach Road in recent months.
Strand also told the council that a young person nearly burned the Dream Island Bridge with fireworks over the weekend. A charred area remains there. He said residents need to be careful with fireworks.
Three residents living in the Sandcrest Association complained about the city’s prohibition of golf carts on city streets. A slow-moving golf cart had traffic backed up along County Road 66 last weekend and police were called.
Later, after Lee posted on the police department’s Facebook page reminding people of this golf cart policy, others complained about the number of golf carts on East Shore Road. One person said it looked like a senior community with all the golf carts.
Lee drove down to the area and found four golf carts in use, two driven by minors, one driven by a mother and son, and another coming back from the boat access. They were given warnings, but no tickets were issued.
Dave Schepers, who lives in the Sandcrest Association, explained that many of the residents in this association are older, and the golf carts allow them to drive the short distance to the association’s swimming beach and boat access without taking up too much valuable parking space. He estimated that of the 80 association members, about 20-30 residents own golf carts.
He asked that the city allow the association board to police itself, issue permits and alert members of the regulations for these golf carts.
Nevin said if the city did this, it would receive similar requests from throughout the entire city.
Lee said the city of Breezy Point allows for golf carts on its streets because it is a golf city; Crosslake is not. Breezy Point has three golf courses and Crosslake has one.
“Every other vehicle on the road is registered, and once we let Sandcrest do it, it won’t stop,” said Lee. “Golf carts are for golfing. I’ve spoken my peace.”
“I don’t think it’s going to happen tonight, guys,” Nevin told the Sandcrest homeowners.
He said it’s a safety issue, especially since many people feel comfortable letting their children drive around on golf carts on city roads. “I feel for you, but I don’t want it hanging on my head.”
Crosslake police responded to 204 calls in June in the city, along with 83 calls in Mission Township.
In other business Monday, the council:
Learned that according to state demographer Susan Brower, the city’s April 1, 2018, population estimate was 2,275 and its household estimate was 1,102.
Added Paul Schmelz, Kirk Schnitker and Douglas Moan to its newly formed VRBO committee.
Accepted the resignation of John Pribyl as public works commissioner and appointed Tom Swenson to fill his term set to expire Jan. 31, 2022.
Authorized the special water quality/sewer committee to develop an amended sewer ordinance and procedures that will require all homeowners with private septic systems to have their systems inspected and pumped, if needed, every three years.
Authorized a construction cost share and maintenance agreement between Crow Wing County and the city for water quality improvements at Loon Lake, adjacent to CSAH 66 and Manhattan Point Boulevard.
Agreed to move up its scheduled road reconstruction project on Big Pine Trail. The city, the county, the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District and the Big Pine Lake Association are working together to construct a new rock dam across the Pine River to stabilize Big Pine Lake, provide canoe access and control flooding. When the construction project is finished, then the city will reconstruct and resurface the road.
Gave the Crosslake Lions a permit to conduct flea markets at 35808 County Road 66 on July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 28.
Removed Jane Monson, manager of parks, recreation and the library, from probationary status effective May 13.
Authorized the personnel committee to create a hands-free cell phone policy for city staff and have it be added to the employee handbook.
Received a letter terminating the memorandum of understanding between the city and the county for the provision of planning and zoning services for the city. County Administrator Tim Houle noted in his letter that there is no acrimony or malice in this cancellation. The county needs all hands on deck right now, he said. Between now and Oct. 31, Houle said the county would rotate field staff for two days a week in Crosslake to complete any site visits and to issue permits.
Heard a request from Pat Netko, a member of the Crosslakers, for the city to support the creation of a workforce housing workshop to get all stakeholders in the city in one place to discuss how to meet everyone’s needs, from the city and the Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. to employers and employees. The council agreed to partner with the Crosslakers, who will develop a plan for a workshop.
Scheduled a closed performance evaluation for Lyonais for 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, at city hall.