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Nisswa: Edna Lake Road work won't be done now - Council delays action

In light of a city commission being formed to study how best to pay for road improvements in Nisswa, the city council on Wednesday, March 15, decided not to proceed with Edna Lake Road improvements at this time.

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In light of a city commission being formed to study how best to pay for road improvements in Nisswa, the city council on Wednesday, March 15, decided not to proceed with Edna Lake Road improvements at this time.

The council did accept a feasibility report from city engineer Mark Hallan, of Widseth Smith Nolting, that includes the proposed costs to improve Edna Lake Road and a short section of Parkway Drive. The council had authorized the report.

City policy as of last September is to assess property owners for road improvements, with residents paying 30 percent of improvement costs and all city taxpayers paying the remaining 70 percent.

Edna Lake Road is the first proposed road improvement under the new policy, which endured much debate before being passed last fall on a split vote.

Under the policy, for a road improvement to happen, citizens would have to petition for the improvement, or the council would have to authorize an improvement on a four-fifths vote. A public hearing would be required before the council could authorize a road improvement.

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Mayor Fred Heidmann noted the city has a petition from Edna Lake Road residents who oppose being assessed for the project.

Three citizens asked questions about the feasibility report. The mayor asked how many in the audience were there for Edna Lake Road discussion, and about a dozen people raised hands. When asked if they had changed their minds about being assessed for the project, no one raised a hand.

Council member Ross Krautkremer suggested the council table the Edna Lake Road feasibility report until deciding whether it will change its funding policy.

"Doing the road is right for the city and for the citizens," he said, but not until the new city commission does its research on how to fund improvements and the council upholds or changes the assessment policy.

Heidmann agreed, saying it's not a question of maintaining city roads; rather it's a question of how to fund improvements.

Council member Don Jacobson said the council should receive the feasibility report, giving the council the ability to talk about it after a decision is made on how to fund road work.

"We have the documents and they are paid for, so we might as well receive them," he said.

Council member Gary Johnson was absent from the March 15 meeting.

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Public safety

The council approved 2017 fire contracts with Nisswa, Lake Shore, Pequot Lakes and Lake Edward and Pelican townships. Contract amounts are based on land and building values within each entity served, and include the cost of the Firemen's Relief Association.

Fire Chief Shawn Bailey said the contracts include 3 percent increases because the department needs a new truck. Bailey said he was happy to report that Lake Edward Township suggested the fire contract group members contribute an additional $10,000 per year into a truck fund for the next few years, with the contribution also allocated according to land and building values within each entity.

Total contract amounts for 2017 are: Nisswa, $85,820; Lake Shore, $72,399; Lake Edward Township, $60,368; Pelican Township, $5,165; Pequot Lakes (Inland Trails area), $1,657.

Firefighters responded to five fire calls, one rescue call and 16 medical calls last month.

In February, police had 44 agency assists and 308 calls for service, issued seven criminal citations, 64 traffic citations and 175 traffic warnings, and made two arrests.

Liquor Department

Terry Wallin, manager of the city-owned Pickle Factory, said the new state law allowing liquor stores to be open Sundays beginning July 1 won't affect the off-sale part of the Pickle because the bar is already open Sundays. But it will affect the city-owned Spirits of Nisswa municipal liquor store.

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Wallin said Brian Farrell, Spirits manager, will meet with the Liquor Committee, but a couple of employees are interested in working Sundays.

Heidmann asked if the council must approve Sunday hours for its municipal off-sale liquor stores, and the council will take that up in April.

Deputy clerk training

After discussion, the council ultimately agreed to send Maggi Wentler, deputy clerk, to training May 1-5 in Plymouth.

Heidmann had suggested holding off on this training until the council decides how to replace the city clerk position, saying the new employee may benefit from the training. The council is researching whether to hire an administrator/clerk.

Council member John Ryan said sending Wentler to the training would show support for and dedication to staff training, especially when considering employee retention since the city has had three staff members resign this year.

It was a budgeted expense, he said, noting the council should put a vote of confidence in employees, and they in return would learn better service and more efficiency through training.

With the aid of scholarships to cover the $450 registration fee, the training is estimated to cost the city $650 for hotel, mileage and meals.

In other business March 15, the council:

• Heard from the city attorney that the city received a revised lease for the Spirits of Nisswa building from Schaefer's Foods, which owns the building. Heidmann said the city has verbally committed to another five-year lease.

• Approved ordinance amendments relating to: temporary signs in residential districts; and to linear LED or neon architectural or sign accents, which are not allowed on any buildings.

• Asked the city attorney to research what the city can do about the Sportland Corners building, which is in disrepair.

Related Topics: NISSWANISSWA CITY COUNCIL
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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