Due to financial uncertainties resulting from the COVID-19 situation, the Pine River City Council chose to delay its proposed 2020 road project.

The decision was made during the Tuesday, May 12, regular council meeting, which was attended in-person by some council members and virtually by others. This road project was part of an ongoing plan to repair large sections of city streets every five years. The plan is designed to keep streets in better condition over longer periods of time.

The entire project would have cost approximately $1,961,220.20. After reviewing possible options to reduce that cost, the council decided instead to push the project off until another year, when the council is more aware of how COVID-19 will affect the city tax base.

The council did, however, choose to use part of the streets budget to pay for repairs to the more immediate problem areas in the proposed 2020 street plan. This includes the parking lot outside the Pine River Public Library, where the city would pay half of approximately $9,500-$18,500 (with the library paying the other half) depending on whether it is an overlay or replacement; chip sealing with a road shared with Barclay Township; and patch jobs on some city streets.

The council also agreed to seek capital finance planning from David Drown and Associates for a cost of $2,500 plus expenses not to exceed $200. This plan will help the council to fully recognize the impact of the COVID-19 related shutdown on the city's finances and what the city is capable of going forward.

In other business May 12, the council:

  • Agreed to offer $120,000 to buy a former highway department building and five acres from Cass County. The building has had heaters removed and needs a new septic system among other additions, estimated at about $100,000 in cost, so the council hopes the county accepts the offer.
  • Approved a conditional use application for Beaudry Oil and a request to rezone it from residential to commercial.
  • Learned that an airport road and parking lot improvement project at a cost of $52,106.52 will be paid for entirely by the Federal Aviation Administration. Usually the city has a 5% share in similar projects.
  • Learned that Operation Sandwich will expand its services of providing meals to local children to Pine River, Pequot Lakes and Nisswa. From June 1 until school opens, the program will provide bag lunches to children who come to the Dam Park in Pine River between 11:30-11:50 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. There will also be drop-off times at Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes and City Park in Nisswa.
  • Approved a new police contract with the school. The only change is that the school will be billed quarterly.
  • Agreed to request that the Minnesota Department of Transportation add standard lighting when it begins the bridge construction project.
  • Increased the bounty on nuisance beavers for city authorized trappers from $25 to $40 per tail.
  • Approved curbside pickup dedicated parking outside of Lifehouse Coffee for the duration of the COVID-19 shutdown of dining establishments.
  • Approved a request for yoga at the dam by River Fitness for the duration of the COVID-19 shutdown of fitness centers. Permission was largely based on the hardships caused by the shutdown. Because the park is public property and River Fitness is a for-profit company, the council determined sections of the park cannot be reserved, and nonmembers can't be required to leave if they show up.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.