Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 7, 2004

HL council talks about parcel near Hwy. 12

By John Swanson

A rather brief Howard Lake council meeting Tuesday was filled with concern over a parcel of commercial property along Highway 12, and questions about capital improvement planning software.

The first of the two subjects pertained to 1.5 acres located on Shoreline Drive and Highway 12.

The property in question was originally purchased by the state, since it needed the property for storage of trucks and materials.

The state intended to deed the property back to the city upon completion of Highway 12, but decided that recouping some of its losses in a time of state deficit is more of a priority.

After a meeting with Roy Scherer of Dura Supreme in Howard Lake, Mayer Gerry Smith recommended ordering an appraisal of the approximately 1.5 acres of land.

Dura-Supreme has expressed an interest in the property ever since it was purchased by the state because “they are concerned about being landlocked with their increased growth,” Smith said.

Dura Supreme is also considering setting up a day care facility for its employees that would possibly also be open to the public.

The cost of the appraisal is estimated somewhere between $1,200 and $1,800, based on the appraisal costs of the old clinic building, which is an expense that would be attached to the sale of the land and ultimately be of no cost to the city.

If the land is sold, it is first offered to the county, then to the city, and if neither are interested, it goes up for bids to the general public.

Council Member Shelly Reddemann stated that if the city purchases the property, “this will speed it up (and) a day care would be beneficial to the city.”

However, concern came from Council Member Tony Ostgulen about the city spending money for an appraisal when, in six months, Dura Supreme could be responsible for the cost of having it done, after it goes up for bids to the general public.

Smith suggested that if the land is allowed to go to the public for purchase, there is a potential to get a business that rivals others already in town, and that we should do whatever we can to support local businesses.

A motion was made by Reddemann that an appraisal be ordered, with the contingency that Dura Supreme will reimburse the city for the cost of the appraisal whether or not they ultimately purchase the property. This was unanimously approved.

The next matter on the agenda was the renewal of a license for Plan It software, a program used by many cities for capital improvement planning.

With this program, past and future expenses can be managed, including anything from streets to utilities, costs, future costs, purchase of equipment, and maintenance of equipment and facilities.

The annual cost of the program, through Strategic Insights Company, is $399, which includes license to use the software, upgrades, and technical support.

Concern about the annual cost and future increases was expressed by Ostgulen, who believes that other software programs are available that do the same things, but do not require an annual fee.

However, it was questioned whether other programs would give the same organized information that Plan It software does.

City Administrator Kelly Bahn said that she finds the Plan It software to be very helpful, and has checked with the City of Delano, which uses it and feels the same.

Many larger cities in the metro area also use it; in fact, it is currently installed in 57 organizations in Minnesota, Bahn said.

Smith motioned that the city renew the license for this next year, giving it time to look at other possibilities. The motion passed 4-1 vote, with Ostgulen opposed.

Turning to other subjects, the council noted that the start of the new city office remodeling project was delayed because asbestos was discovered in the glue under the ceramic tile and part of the carpet area, which is a remnant from past vinyl tile that has long since been removed.

The cost of removal went to the lowest bid for $5,800. The work will be completed this week, and soon after, remodeling can once again commence, with expected completion by August.

Turning to other subjects, the council noted that rain has slowed progress on both the sewer project and the second phase of the industrial park.

The grinding up of the pavement and tree removal will begin next week between 5th and 12th Avenue.

The Boat landing is in at the newly renovated Lions Park, and landscaping is being done.

Trees have been planted that were donated by the Lions and the Legion, and new sod will be laid as soon as weather allows. The sod was purchased with the help of the Howard Lake Business Association, who donated $500, Gerry’s SuperValu, who donated $200, and Ace Sod, who is donating half the sod that is needed.

The city received an extension until July from the Department of Natural Resources for the landing’s completion and the park will be open by July 4.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• passed a resolution between the city of Howard Lake and Middleville Township regarding improvement and maintenance of 60th Street, east of County Road 7.

• approved advertising for Good Neighbor Days in the newspaper, but denied a flyer based on not enough money left in the advertising budget.

• tabled a resolution between Howard Lake and Goldendale Housing Project.

• heard a request from city resident Jan Gilmer, who wants the alley between 4th and 5th Avenue to be graveled and storm drains cleaned. Reddeman will look into it.

As usual, repeats of the council meeting can be seen on Mediacom Cable Channel 10 Thursdays at 11 a.m., 4 p.m., and 10 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.; and 11 p.m., and Tuesdays at 1 p.m., and 7 p.m.

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