Property is part of floodplain acquisition grant
By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN For the past two years, the City of Delano has been talking with Leland Shrode and his representatives regarding the purchase of his property and the relocation of his auto repair business.
Shrode’s property, located on Highway 12 and Rockford Avenue, is part of the city’s floodplain property acquisition that it received a grant for several years back. This is the last piece of property the city is hoping to acquire, according to Delano City Administrator Phil Kern.
“We’ve been talking with Leland and Sons Auto since the summer of 2007, attempting to work out a purchase and relocation of their business,” Kern said. “They foremost desire to remain in business, and I think the council has been pretty united to keep them in business in Delano and trying to find a place for them to successfully continue their operation.”
At the city council meeting March 3, the council approved a purchase/relocation agreement, as well as paper work to begin the process of eminent domain to ensure the city will complete the acquisition process by June 30, utilizing the grant funding available for the project.
This is necessary because the grant the city received expires on that date.
Kern explained that going into this month, it takes time to conduct the transfer of ownership, and said the city wants to ensure it will receive those grant funds.
He said it’s not physically possible for Leland and Sons to have a new building constructed and be moved by June 30.
The agreement the council approved has a sale/lease option with the existing facility until such a time the new facility is ready, Kern said, indicating a nine-month time period for this to take place. This means the city wouldn’t be able to do anything with the property until early 2010.
“What we’re shooting for is to close first, and allow them to stay for a time period to get the new building built,” Kern said.
The business would be relocated approximately 300 feet west of its present location on a piece of land along the southeast corner of what was the “backage” road during the Highway 12 detour last year, kitty-corner from the Peppermint Twist Drive Inn.
Another stipulation in the purchase agreement is an item regarding contamination.
“With all our purchase agreements, we request that the property owner be responsible for anything they did on the site,” Kern said, adding that in 1999, the City of Delano received notice from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) regarding storage tanks that had previously been on the site.
Kern said it’s not uncommon at all that most former gas stations go through this process. After removing the tanks, the Shrode site received notification of additional investigation into potential contamination needing to take place.
“That request by the MPCA has been outstanding for the last nine-plus years,” Kern said, noting that in the purchase agreement there is a $100,000 contingency that if the city would need to take care of this issue itself.
The council approved the request without this contingency, and Kern said Shrode and his staff met with the MPCA last fall and hired a firm to come in and conduct the studies needed.
Kern said the MPCA considers the site to be in good standing and there are no additional concerns from its standpoint.
The final part of the documents approved by the council pertains to the eminent domain process. This process is taking place in the event something happens to delay the purchase/relocation process so the city could still utilize the grant funds.
Kern said it is recommended doing these processes at the same time with the full intent the city will not go through with eminent domain. He said it’s simply the backup plan in the event something falls apart along the way.
“They (Shrode) understand that and have no objections to that,” Kern said.
Highway maintenance agreement approved
Each year, the City of Delano enters into a maintenance agreement with the Wright County Highway Department for the routine maintenance of County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 17.
The estimate for reimbursement in 2009 is $1,784, from the county to the city.
Liaison appointment changed by council
The council discussed the council’s liaison to the city’s park and recreation committee.
Council Member Brad Hotchkiss was appointed to the position in January, when the city council made appointments to various boards and commissions.
At the meeting when the appointments were made, Hotchkiss was absent and was assigned the park and recreation committee.
Hotchkiss said, because he works at Landscape Structures, there is a potential conflict of interest with him serving as liaison to the park and recreation committee.
Council Member Holly Schrupp offered to fill the role of liaison between the council and the park and recreation committee.
Hotchkiss will remain as liaison to the fire department, and said he wants to get more involved with the Delano Senior Center.
Council approves change to intersection
The council approved restriping the crosswalk and installing “ped crossing” signs on Third Street/Savanna Trail/Prairie Creek Drive.
The council reviewed a request from a resident who lives in the area to look at doing something in the area to reduce speed.
Also discussed was the process that is in place for similar requests and if a policy is needed.
If such a request is brought to the city, it is sent to Delano Fire Chief Bob Van Lith to review traffic counts and work with the city’s traffic engineer to see if a speed study is warranted. It is also brought to the city’s public safety commission for review, which in turn, makes a recommendation to the city council.
Council Member Betsy Stolfa said it would be nice to have a written policy in place so it would be easier for the city to respond to such requests for action. Stolfa said a printed set of steps, so the resident knows how the request is going to be handled, would be ideal.
The council approved the creation of such a policy, with Hotchkiss opposing the motion, stating it’s something the public safety committee does anyway and that the council doesn’t need to write the policy for them to follow.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• proclaimed the month of March to be Minnesota FoodShare Month within the City of Delano.
Delano Helping Hands Food Shelf representative Jean Pilarski was present at the meeting and spoke briefly about the food shelf.
“We handle all Delano patrons,” Pilarski said. “The Delano community has been a strong supporter of Helping Hands.”
Pilarski said there is a high demand and a lot of usage at food shelves. The food shelf, which has been in operation since 1985, is located in the basement of the Delano Community Education building on Elm Avenue.
• approved a public facility lease between the city and Bradley Hasledalen for an outreach concert and other activities, including a bi-annual truckload food giveaway in conjunction with Love INC and Second Harvest Food Shelf.
The event will take place in the bandshell area of Central Park, and will feature two live bands from 8 to 11 p.m.
• approved the purchase of a 2009 skid-steer loader at a cost of $23,530 from Caterpiller. The city has $25,000 budgeted for the purchase.
The city presently owns a 1997 skid-steer, and Public Works Director Ernie Eden said it is underpowered and doesn’t effectively operate the snow blower, mill head, and broom attachments.
He said the new skid-steer would allow all of the attachments to be used and would make that part of the operation more efficient.
• approved the purchase of a 5310 vehicle for transportation for the Delano Senior Center.
In November of last year, the senior center received a grant through the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to obtain the special transportation vehicle. This vehicle will replace the present 1998 vehicle.
The vehicle will be purchased from Hoglund Bus Company of Monticello, and will be used primarily to provide transportation for senior center programming, out of area shopping trips, or day tours. River Rider will continue to provide basic transportation services in Delano.
“We want to complement River Rider,” said Delano Senior Center Director Gail Sinkel. “We don’t want to compete with River Rider.”
The total cost of the vehicle is $60,415, and through the grant, the City of Delano is responsible for $12,083, or 20 percent, of the cost. The senior center has the funds to pay the 20 percent share.
• approved the establishment of a community garden this summer in Central Park (see separate story).
• heard an update of the city’s new e-newsletter program from Kern. To save money, the city is going to an electronic format with its city newsletter.
Kern said those who may not have access to the Internet can contact the city hall and copies will still be mailed.
• approved a resolution establishing fees and an application format for pawnshop licenses.
Stolfa and McDonald opposed this motion, as they felt this is something that can be addressed with the recodification of the city’s codes that is taking place.
• heard an update from Kern about the city’s request to Wright County regarding the east side lift station project and construction impacts on Wright County Road 17.
The project requires a pipe to be buried beneath Wright County Road 17 that would cost $73,000 to push a 60-inch pipe under the roadway so it wouldn’t have to be open cut.
Wright County Commissioner Jack Russek presented a request from the City of Delano, asking the city be allowed to open cut the roadway and save $73,000, which was approved by the county.