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Winsted reviews policy for private docks on city lakeshore property

April 7, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

The Winsted City Council discussed the consequences of allowing privately-owned docks to be placed on city lakeshore property during its Tuesday meeting.

The subject was initiated when the city learned there are already two private docks being set up on city property, when the season permits, and there is no ordinance in place to keep others from doing the same thing.

“Today it is two docks, someday it is going to be 12 docks,” Council Member Tom Ollig said.

During its May 6 meeting, the council is asking for comments from Winsted residents, before moving forward on the issue.

The council reviewed an article written in 1990 by a staff attorney for the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT), which asked cities to establish an agreement or permit system pertaining to private docks attached to city property.

The suggestion was the result of a lawsuit where a young man became a quadriplegic after diving off a private dock located on city property.

“The court determined that it is the city’s responsibility, and not the dock owner’s responsibility to safeguard such a dock,” according to the LMCIT article.

The LMCIT stated in the article that “the permit system should be established by ordinance and require the city council to give permission.”

It also recommended that the agreement or permit primarily address liability and have the dock owner agree to:

• hold the city harmless for claims arising out of the existence of the dock.

• carry adequate insurance. A certificate of insurance would be required to be presented to the city each year.

• maintain the dock to certain specifications as outlined in the agreement or permit.

• install warning signs in English and universal symbols indicating “no swimming,” “no diving,” and /or “private dock – keep off.”

Copies of the City of Plymouth dock ordinance, and City of Worthington dock ordinance and dock permit were handed out at the meeting.

Historic city hall owners offer phase plan to complete renovations

The council approved an agreement with Todd and Kelly Colonna to facilitate the completion of restoration work to the historic city hall.

The Colonnas’ attorney offered a three-phase plan.

Phase one would complete the sub-floor of the main level, painting and repair of the upper floor ceiling, and sanding and repair of the upper level floor by June 30.

Phase two includes framing of the interior walls and installation of a bathroom on the upper level floor by July 31.

The third phase would require installation of all electrical, plumbing, and telephone, wall sheeting, painting trim, kitchen cabinets, doors, toilets and sinks on the upper level by November 30.

The Colonnas will contact the city after each phase to allow the building to be inspected.

If the renovations for any phase are incomplete, the city may resume the pending litigation.

The Colonnas will also be penalized in the amount of $100 for each day the renovations remain incomplete after November 30.

The Colonnas originally purchased and agreed to the renovation of the historic city hall Oct. 3, 2001.

Public nuisance at 121 Main Avenue West

The council has given Doug Bebo, owner of the building at 121 Main Avenue West, until Monday, April 7 at 8 a.m., to clean up sewage residue in the basement of his building, or the city will hire someone to do it for him.

According to City Administrator Brent Mareck, there have been complaints from neighbors because of a strong odor coming from the lower level.

Bebo has fixed the plumbing, which caused the sewer backup, and has told the city he has people lined up to do the clean up.

County engineer reports on pedestrian safety

McLeod County Highway Engineer John Brunkhorst explained to the council why the county was turning down its request for a “slow children at play” sign on Baker Avenue. Brunkhorst said the county no longer utilizes “slow children at play,” “deaf child,” “blind child,” or “watch for children” signs because:

• the signs are unenforceable;

• motorists should be aware that children may be playing on all highways;

• the signs give parents and children a false sense of security; and

• there is no data to support that the signs effectively modify driver behavior.

Winsted resident Lenora Kubasch, who lives along McLeod County Road l, told Brunkhorst the pedestrian crosswalk flashing lights on McLeod County Road 1 have not been working for about a month.

Brunkhorst said he was not aware that they were not working and said he would look into it.

Brunkhorst told the council he would return to do a follow-up traffic count and average road speed study on McLeod County Road 1 when the weather is warmer.

Kubasch said it was her opinion that the signs do seem to have an effect on the traffic speed in the area.

Odds and ends:

In other business, the council:

• approved a $468,507 pay request to Greystone Construction Company for work completed on the new city hall.

• approved the purchase of the new city hall office furniture in the amount of $90,672.

• approved the purchase of the new city hall appliances for the community center kitchen and break room in the amount of $3,327.

• reviewed and adopted the City of Winsted’s 2008 goals and action plan.

• approved the Winsted Municipal Airport land lease amendments.

Included is a one-time airport access fee of $4,500 to be paid by the hangar owner when entering into a land lease for new hangar construction, and a yearly $200 improvement fee to be paid by each hangar owner and saved in an airport improvement fund.

There are currently 42 hangars at the airport so that would be a total of $8,400 collected and saved each year.

The 2006 audit revealed that the Winsted Municipal Airport had a deficit of $24,049.

• approved an additional lakefront promenade project expense for shoreline cleanup and plantings in the amount of $69,300.

• approved an additional project expense for the new city hall in the amount of $1,034 for plumbing and gas piping for a fireplace in the community room.

• listened to an update given by Mareck on the construction progress of the new city hall.

He told the council the framing upstairs has been completed, the stairs have been approved, 75 percent of the exterior stonework is done, the roof is done, and the glass should be placed in the windows in a week or so.

• learned that an Arbor Day celebration is planned for Thursday, April 24 at Westgate Park located by Westgate Terrace.

The event will include planting a tree, and a tree inspector will be available if anyone has any questions about trees. Free hot dogs, chips, cookies and refreshments will be available to those attending.

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