By Roz Kohls
Too many out-of-towners are using Dassel’s compost site.
Dassel City Council decided last Monday to first post hours when the compost site is open. If that doesn’t work, the city will put up a gate that can be locked at the site along Highway 12, between Farm-Rite Equipment and Hojies Grill & Smokehouse.
Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak reported that three days after a series of recent storms, city workers collected downed tree branches from the curbs of residences, and hauled them to the compost site. When they arrived, there already was a pile of brush there bigger than two city council rooms combined, he said. The crew knew the brush and storm debris came from outside the city because they had cleared 70 percent of the city themselves.
City Administrator Myles McGrath said some cities keep their composts sites locked, and the keys at city hall. People who want to dump brush, must go to city hall to get a key. If the dumper is not a city resident, the dumper doesn’t get a key. “It works,” McGrath said.
Council members also discussed a security camera to record the license plate numbers of violators at the compost site, but decided it might be too expensive, and time-consuming for law enforcement officers to research the plate numbers.
Scepaniak brought a copy of a letter he had sent to Dassel Township asking the township to share in the compost site’s cost.
The township refused, saying city residents used the township’s recycling center as much as the township residents used the city’s compost site. Scepaniak said he was puzzled by the township’s explanation, because Dassel has curbside recycling twice a month, while the township’s collection of recyclables is once a month.
The council also discussed selling the compost as a way to cover costs, but McGrath said the city’s compost might contain materials not appropriate for all flower beds.
In other environmental news, McGrath said cities want residents to use alternative means of transportation, such as golf carts, as much as possible. However, golf carts must stay only on city streets, and not be driven on Meeker County Roads 4 and 6, according to Meeker County Deputy Gordie Prochaska.
Also, the golf carts must have a mirror and a slow-moving vehicle sign on them. Drivers need to use hand signals, he added.
Council Member Wayne Medcraft said he recently was driving his car behind a woman in a golf cart. The golf cart could “stop on a dime,” he said.
The woman stopped the golf cart so suddenly, he missed hitting her buy a matter of inches, Medcraft said.
Medcraft also proposed July 21 that the city put a mid-block crosswalk leading from the front door of Dassel Elementary School across William Avenue. The estimated cost of painting and signage was $700, according to Scepaniak.
However, the uniform traffic manual said non-intersectional pedestrian crossings are generally unexpected by motorists, so several warning signs and parking prohibition signs need to be installed, Scepaniak said.
The council decided against adding a midblock crosswalk.
Odds and ends
In other business the council:
• scheduled a work session to plan the 2009 budget for Thursday, Aug. 14 at 5:30 p.m.
• heard a report from Mayor Ava Flachmeyer that Dassel is discussing sharing building inspections and other services with Cokato. Mid-Minnesota Development Corporation will no longer provide building inspection services after Tuesday, Sept. 30, McGrath said.
• listened to a report from Liquor Store Manager Marvin Vetsch that sales were so good in July, they topped last year’s sales for the month by 9 percent.
Vetsch also said he was unconcerned about competition from another new liquor store on Highway 15 at Luxemburg.
In addition, the Economic Development Association will take over ownership of the unused portion of the liquor store building in the former A+ Sports and Marine building, and then lease it to the store. That way, the unused space won’t hurt the liquor store financially, McGrath said.