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Cokato council questions the future of its EDA
Monday, April 9, 2012

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN – The Cokato Economic Development Authority lost a member more than a year ago, and, despite recruitment efforts, has not been able to fill the position.

Now, Dean Perry, the EDA president, will also be resigning, making it two members short.

Because the future of the EDA is unclear at this time, the Cokato City Council decided to table the acceptance of a grant from the Minnesota Initiative Foundation in the amount of $3,500.

The grant was to be used to prepare a visit from the Minnesota Design Team, a group of volunteer professionals who assist communities in creating a vision for the future.

“With the EDA falling down the tubes a little with the president leaving and missing members, I would like to hold off a bit on this,” said Mayor Gordy Erickson.

The timetable for the grant is just too quick, and preparation for a design team visit takes six to eight months, Council Member Butch Amundsen noted.

At the end of the meeting, Amundsen noted his concern about the EDA and whether it can be sustained.

As far as development in Cokato is concerned, any economic development that has happened, happened on its own, Amundsen added.

“Maybe we need a moratorium on the EDA for a while,” Amundsen said.

It should be noted that the Cokato council agreed to levy an additional $5,000 for the EDA this year for marketing efforts. The EDA’s budget totals $15,000, plus any grants received.

Cokato still on-board with trail improvement

The council reaffirmed its position to contribute $25,000 towards the Dassel-Cokato Regional Trail, although the trail board will not be seeking any grants for the project.

The new proposal is to repair the trail in two phases. Phase one would be from 735th Street near Dassel to the Wright County border, at a cost of $63,246.

Phase two would be repairing the trail from Reardon Avenue to the Cokato city limits at a cost of $68,900. The total cost of the repairs would be $132,146.

Both Dassel Township and the Dassel-Cokato School Board have reaffirmed their commitments of $25,000 towards trail repairs.

Sidewalk repairs approved

The council approved repairing sidewalks along Third Street, replacement of the sidewalk at Fourth Street and Mooers Avenue, and repair of a sunken strip on Millard Avenue, at a total cost of $22,197.

Noting the city usually spends about $20,000 to $25,000 per year repairing sidewalks, Erickson asked whether the list was the total list for this year.

It was noted by Public Works Director Jeff DeGrote that it is only repairs needed for sidewalks along one street.

“Well, it’s a step in the right direction. We can’t do them all in one year, financially,” Amundsen said.

Council Member Ken Bakke noted he wanted to look into replacing the sidewalk near the museum, once Third Street is completed.

Historical society management agreement

The council reviewed the management agreement between the Cokato Historical Society and the city which is in the process of being drafted.

The agreement outlines the fiscal and managerial responsibilities.

Amundsen questioned whether liability insurance should be the responsibility of the historical society or the city.

He also wanted to be able to dissolve the agreement by giving only six months notice, rather than the 12 months currently in the agreement.

Museum Director Mike Worcester said he would bring the changes back to the historical society, which meets in May.

Following that, the council will see the final version for approval at its June meeting, Worcester said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved the sale of used aerators to Faribault Foods in the amount of $10,000.

• approved the purchase of a new lawn mower for the public works department at a cost of $10,474.

• approved replacement of the front doors at city hall after receiving a grant for $8,000.

The cost to replace the doors is $9,746, plus approximately $700 for electrical work.

• appointed Al Jones to the police advisory commission.

• approved a lot split for property owned by Reed Carlson at 690 Wright County State Aid Highway 4.

• authorized advertising for pool staff for the 2012 swimming season.

• received a “thank you” plaque from the Initiative Foundation for its contribution of $3,000 to the foundation’s endowment.

The donation was matched with funds from the McKnight Foundation.

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