Cokato council sets workshop for capital improvement plans

October 20, 2008

By Lynda Jensen

Discussion about a proposed new public safety building continued in Cokato City Council action Tuesday, with the council setting a workshop in November for capital improvement plans.

Council Member Butch Amundsen wasn’t present at the meeting, being on a trip, which he had notified the council previously.

During the meeting, Council Member Wayne Murphy pressed the council to put the public safety building on the “fast track,” and make a date for the workshop.

He alluded to all the groundwork that had been done before, and noted the copy of a memo sent from Shelly Eldridge of Ehlers & Associates to the city clerk Sept. 29, which was included in the packet for the council meeting Tuesday night.

At the time it was sent by Ehlers Sept. 29, the memo was also shared with public safety committee members, but other council members and Administrator Don Levens have said in the past they didn’t receive it.

The memo contained a timeline and information about a capital improvement plan bond for a new public safety building, along with other paperwork associated with this subject.

“We need to go forward again,” Murphy said. He said that his purpose on the council is to make sure the emergency services building plans move forward.

“That’s why I’m here,” Murphy said. “It will save a life.”

“They (fire department) still save lives, without a new building,” Council Member Gordy Erickson said. “They’re doing an excellent job.”

“I have a problem with you saying that,” Erickson told Murphy. “It won’t help them respond quicker.”

Cokato Fire Chief Mike Holmquist urged the council to move forward with the fire hall issue.

“I’ve been on the department for 30 years,” he said. He briefly recounted the most recent turn of events for the public safety building plans, including the Holt property, which was previously available, and then taken off the market.

“Here we are, now,” Holmquist said. “It won’t get cheaper (to build a new fire hall).” The department is buying equipment with pulltab proceeds and has no room to put it anywhere, he added.

Council Member Carl Harju noted that, with the recent mass casualty drill that took place, when it comes to a disaster trailer used for training, “We can’t even consider it.” He noted that the railroad runs through town and “who knows what” is being carried on the trains.

Holmquist agreed, saying that a boat for water rescue is also out of the question, due to space.

Harju noted that it would be nice to have a four-wheeler, in order to track someone who might be lost in the woods. Currently, the fire department borrows equipment or has to hike through woods, for example. Borrowing works, but it would be better to have the equipment there and ready.

“It’s been a good building over the years,” Holmquist said. “But it’s time to move on.”

The council set a workshop for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17 to discuss capital improvements, which include many other subjects – everything from streets to the library – as well as the fire hall issue, over a five-year plan.

Demonstration of new CPR equipment given

Harju gave a demonstration of new CPR compression equipment during the council meeting (photos to print next week).

The equipment was purchased with some money from a recently awarded FEMA grant and the Department of Homeland Security.

The total grant amount received was $14,060, with five percent of the costs, $740, being shared by the city.

Odds and ends

In other matters, the council:

• noted that the city is recruiting rink attendants for the 2008-09 season (see classifieds section).

• noted that the League of Minnesota Cities will conduct a regional meeting in Dassel Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Dassel Covenant Church.

• heard from Murphy, who said he was told by a resident that the city dragged its feet on a Verizon receiver atop a city tower.

“Verizon did not communicate well with the water tower contractor,” said Ken Bakke of public works.

• approved the pending claims, with the exception of a $2,398 engineering bill from Bonestroo regarding the Klarsyn wetland storm water issue. Murphy pulled the bill, asking for an explanation, saying it seemed like the city was being billed over and over for engineering.

Erickson said that Amundsen (who wasn’t present) told him previously that the final grade of black dirt was too high on one end and not high enough on another.

“I don’t mind getting it right, but not over and over,” Murphy said.

• confirmed participation in a countywide grant application for emergency radios in Wright County.

• heard from Harju that the improvements at Legion Park were moving along nicely. The dugouts are in place, with backstop and folds up.

• received notice from the Koch Pipeline Company that the MinnCan project was nearing completion, and that the pipeline will be filled with crude oil in mid-October, pending tests.


Regarding the Cokato City Council meeting reported in the Oct. 13 issue: the videotape was reviewed and Council Member Wayne Murphy left his seat for a only a few minutes, not 15-20 minutes as it was reported. He did not miss any council action and was, in fact, at his seat when the meeting ended.

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