Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 14, 2003

LP council drops idea of moving police department

By Julie Yurek

More than 30 Lester Prairie residents attended last Monday's city council meeting to speak against the plans to move the Lester Prairie Police Department to city hall.

After hearing statements from Ed Mlynar and Larry Russell the council approved a motion to drop the issue.

Russell presented the council with a petition signed by 424 citizens, and he spoke on the behalf of his wife, Barb, who could not attend, about the Lester Prairie bloodmobile.

The main argument of both men was that city hall was built with the intent that it would be a place where organizations could gather.

Russell asked the council if it thought the Lester Prairie bloodmobile was important. Members responded with "yes," "of course," and "very important."

"Then where is it supposed to go?" Russell asked. The bloodmobile requires an air-conditioned and non-carpeted facility, he said. Only one church in the community is air-conditioned, but is most likely carpeted, he said.

The council didn't ask for opinions from organizations, Russell said.

Moving the police department jeopardizes many organizations, he said.

When Russell finished, the crowd applauded.

Mayor Eric Angvall responded to Russell.

"Most of the town voted for a Republican governor. The city faces a $40,000 deficit this year and a $41,000 cut next year," he said.

Insurance costs are increasing, as are heating and other bills, he added.

If the facility is for organizations, why wasn't more space for parking made? Angvall asked.

"The city needs to find places to cut," he said.

"Does the council want to dry up this corner of Main Street?" Mlynar asked.

Having meetings and gatherings brings people into the downtown area, which means business for store owners, he said.

"I feel (the city) has to provide the facilities," he said. "We're a growing community."

"We have this facility ­ let's keep it, and find other ways (to save money)," he said. The crowd also applauded Mlynar.

One resident from the audience asked to put it to a city-wide vote. "We don't put a vote to everything," Angvall replied.

It wouldn't be a legal vote, said City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk.

Voting is for selling bonds or electing officials, she said.

Another resident asked what the city would be saving annually by moving the department, but no one replied to her question.

It had been stated at previous meetings by the council that the police building would have had to sell at a price high enough to cover all the costs of remodeling city hall.

A woman questioned why the city needs three police officers. "Two are enough," she said.

"The city would need to pay back a $75,000 grant then," Angvall said.

Mlynar also responded to the woman's statement.

Cutting the police force could cause "major, major problems," Mlynar said. More people moving into the community may bring more "vice," he said.

The Minnesota Police Chiefs Association calculates that one police officer is needed for every 500 residents in a city in Minnesota, Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson told the Herald Journal Wednesday.

The current population is about 1,400 and with two new housing developments in the city, the population will only increase, he said.

Angvall asked for the opinions of council members.

Council member Rollie Bruckschen felt that the city should provide a place for city functions and should scrap the idea, to which the crowd applauded.

Budget workshop

A budget workshop is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, August 6 at 7 p.m. at city hall to discuss the 2004 budget. The Lester Prairie Fire Department and Bergen Township will be asked to attend.

Juncewski's prelim. plan approved

The council approved Lenny and Linda Juncewski's preliminary plat for East Park Estates with one change ­ two street names must be switched.

East Park Estates will have a total of 107 lots. The number of lots increased because Juncewskis decided to add more townhomes, he said.

The development will be done in two phases. Access points into the development will be one from McLeod County Road 9 and one from McLeod County Road 23.

With the increased number of lots, an environmental impact survey or worksheet may need to be complete, Pawelk said. Also, a storm water runoff may also be necessary, she said. Juncewskis' engineer, Westwood Professional Services, should let them know what needs to be completed, she said.

The final plat presentation and public hearing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 11 during the regular meeting.

Cleaning for well three

Water volume at well three is decreasing, Dan Wroge, plant manager of the Lester Prairie Waste Water Treatment Plant, told the council.

The screen is clogged and needs cleaning and treatment to remove the calcium and alkaline deposits, he said.

The estimated cost to fix it is between $7,000 and $8,000, he said.

The council authorized Council Member Larry Hoof to work with Wroge on getting a company in fix the problem.

Updated inspection code ordinance

Paul Waldron of Waldron and Associates addressed the council about the building code ordinance update.

Every three years a new edition of building codes comes out, he explained.

Changes include an inspection for a vapor barrier under heated buildings, lathe under stucco applications, and requiring weather wrap.

The city will have to rewrite its rental ordinance under the new ordinance, Waldron said.

Waldron also informed the council that there have been no increases to fees since 1997. Many cities are increasing fees by 10 to 15 percent, he said.

The council requested fee comparisons and approved the new building code ordinance with two exceptions, special fire protection services related to sprinkler systems, and building in a flood plain.

Other business

In other matters, the council:

· approved a variance for Laurie Boogaard for a house addition at 106 Oak Street North.

· approved a variance for Gary Prehn for a garage addition at 144 Cedar Drive.

· approved a final plat for Kendall Schultz for a one lot subdivision in section 10 of Bergen Township.

· scheduled a public hearing for Earl Heldt at the August meeting. Heldt is asking for the city to vacate the alley behind his property at 101 Juniper Street. He wants ownership of the east half of the east-west alley, he said.

His neighbors have all agreed for him to own it, he said. The other half of the alley would go to Sue Winter, he said.

· approved a sketch plan for Stacy and Amy Meyer for a one-lot subdivision in Bergen Township.

· approved the final plat for Scott and Heidi Stutelberg's two-lot sub-division located on 180th Street in Bergen Township.

· denied a request from Stan Heldt regarding his water/sewer bill at his rental property on First Street.

Heldt had two bills that were substantially higher than previous quarters, he said. One bill was for $890 and the other was for $515; both were paid. A normal bill for the residence is between $200 and $250, he said.

A leaking bathtub faucet was at fault for the first bill and a faulty water softener was to blame for the second bill.

Both times, Wroge went to the house as a courtesy call to help find the problem. The city is not required to go to a residence to find the leak, Angvall said.

Heldt felt that he and city should both have responsibility on the second bill, he said. He asked for credit on future bills.

Angvall informed Heldt that the city has not forgiven a water/sewer bill in the past when it is due to faulty equipment, he said.

"It's not the city's obligation to check peoples' homes," he added.

Pawelk suggested that the city no longer allow city employees to go into homes to look for where water could be leaking.

· was informed that the police department received a grant to pay for the field training of reserve officer Travis Winter in the amount of about $3,000.

· approved the purchase of a 1988 half-ton Chevy pickup truck for $600 when the process of forfeiture is completed at the Lester Prairie Police Department. The truck will be used in the maintenance department.

· approved the closing of Second Avenue South between Pine Street and Oak Street for a Lester Prairie Fire Department and Bergen Township picnic Tuesday, July 15 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The fire department will show its trucks and have the smoke trailer available to show children.

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