September 10, 2007

City and school district come to agreement on former water tower site

School district wants to use the land for future school expansion

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Where a water tower stood in the past for many years, new school facilities may soon find a home on that same land.

Representatives from the Delano School District were at Tuesday’s meeting to address the district’s request that the city convey property along Tiger Drive to the district for a possible school site.

For the past few months, the school district has been working to obtain property on the southwest corner of the Tiger Drive/Wright County Road 30 intersection. There are two properties there that total 7.16 acres, which the school district has entered into purchase agreements for. This will allow for the purchase to take place, providing the upcoming school referendum is successful.

In May, Mayor Joe McDonald updated the council with the school’s request. Superintendent Dr. John Sweet told the city that the school needs to come up with 13 acres of land in order to meet state requirements for a new grades 4-6 building. The school is requesting the city grant the remaining 5.84 acres of land it needs for $1.

“We need 13 usable acres of land, and I don’t think they’re going to waiver on that,” Sweet said.

Over the past few years, the city, school, and Delano Municipal Utilities (DMU) have had numerous discussions on the possible uses of the site, according to City Administrator Phil Kern. At one time, the site was looked at as a possibility for a future ice arena/recreation site. At that time, DMU proceeded with its plans for a water treatment facility.

Kern said the location of the facility was established to preserve as much of the remaining land for future site use. Through the water treatment plant construction, the property was not subdivided, and exists as one parcel of land.

DMU General Manager Hal Becker has also been exploring some expansions to the water treatment facility to keep up with the growth of the town, including a proposed water softening plant, which would conflict with the school’s proposed use of the land.

It was noted by council members that they did not have a problem with the school utilizing the land, but that options be left open for use of it in the future.

“I think the needs of the school district outweigh that,” Mayor Joe McDonald said about the proposed water softener facility. “The school district does need that land for their growth.”

A roll call vote was requested by Council Member Larry Bartels, with each council member voting in favor of entering into the purchase agreement with the school district for the property.

It was noted in the purchase agreement that the district is aware of the utilities on the site, and that the district would bear any costs of relocation of any utilities as a result of any new school construction.

Several ‘no parking’ signs to be removed in town

The council approved the removal of three “No parking 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.” signs from locations at River Street North from Elm Avenue to Railroad Avenue, Bridge Avenue from Second Street North to Highway 12, and on Railroad Avenue from Second Street North to River Street North.

Delano’s Public Safety Director Bob Van Lith said the signs were installed years ago, and presently have no real meaning.

City Clerk Marlene Kittock and Van Lith have not been able to come up with any city ordinance that supports the signs, and it was noted the signs also contradict the snow ordinance, which is in effect from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. in the winter months for the entire city.

The council also approved the removal of “No spectator parking July 3 and 4” signs from the south side of Railroad Avenue East between River Street and Third Street.

Van Lith said in a memo to the council that the signs were installed when State Bank of Delano was in its past facility, where the library presently is located.

“The bank is no longer there, so I don’t think we need the signs anymore,” Van Lith said. “The problem of parking in this area has not been an issue the last few years with the bank gone.”

Official newspaper designation discussed

At its reorganizational meeting at the beginning of the year, the city appointed the Delano Eagle as its official newspaper from January through August, at which time the Delano Herald Journal will have been in existence one year, and therefore meet all requirements to be a qualified newspaper.

Bids were received from both the Eagle and the Herald Journal for the city’s official newspaper. It was noted that the bids are not the easiest to understand due to difference in column widths and font sizes.

After discussion, the council decided to continue with the Delano Eagle as its official newspaper through the end of the year because it had submitted the lowest bid.

Subscription numbers of the two publications were compared, with it being noted the Herald Journal has 1,008 subscribers in the Delano ZIP code, while the Eagle has a reported 594. It was also noted both bids that were received were lower than what the city had been paying the Eagle to that point.

Council Member Brad Hotchkiss felt the city should go with the newspaper that had the higher subscriber number, and voted against the motion appointing the Eagle for the remainder of the year.

In December, bids will again be called for to be the official newspaper for the city in 2008.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• continued the public hearing from Aug. 21 regarding the establishment of a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the Delano Ponds senior and assisted living project.

No one from the public commented on the proposal, which was approved by the council.

Kern explained TIF as using future tax dollars that will be created from the project to create a subsidy now. Over the next 25 years, it was calculated this supports $600,000.

• authorized a pay request from Matt Bullock Contracting Company for construction services on the north ball field at Central Park for $22,775.

The council also approved a change order for the project that includes fencing for the youth ball fields, as well as some corrections in the drainage plan for the north ball field, deleting some curbing and a catch basin, and changing the pipe material for the storm water system.

• authorized the Delano Fire Department to conduct training at 236 Babcock Boulevard.

• approved step increases for Van Lith and building official Scott Dornfield.

Van Lith began working for the city in the late 1970s, and after employment elsewhere, has continued to work for the city since 1991.

Over the past two years, Van Lith has transitioned to a public safety role, where he coordinates duties of the fire department, public works, and communications with the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.

Dornfield began working for the city in June 2004.

• at a special workshop prior to the regular meeting, reviewed preliminary budget and levy information for 2008, with a special council workshop being set for Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Several things noted include Delano’s recent building slowdown, and the amount of building permit revenue, as well as cuts in local government aid (LGA).

• reviewed Highway 12 reconstruction signage east and west of town, and requested the words “local businesses open” be added to the signs.

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