By Starrla Cray
WINSTED If all goes as expected, the Winsted Municipal Airport will likely have a new turf runway by 2019 or 2020.
The Winsted City Council plans to officially switch the project from paved to turf at its Tuesday, Nov. 21 meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the council chambers. A public hearing will take place just before the vote, giving an opportunity for people to express concerns or ask questions.
After the council takes action, there will be a 30-day public review period of amended project documents.
The reason for the change from paved to turf is to accommodate nearby landowners. Eight landowners would have had to sell a portion of their property for paving. Because not all landowners were willing to sell, the council indicated it will no longer pursue paving. (The council has the authority to take the land through eminent domain, but members were in 100-percent agreement that they were not willing to go this route.)
Seven people attended Winsted’s work session Tuesday seeking information about the airport project, including hangar owner Russ Runck.
He asked how long it would be before a new turf runway would be usable, and what would happen if the runway is damaged by commercial operations. He also asked about funding, and who would be responsible for the local 5-percent share. (Ninety percent of the project will be paid with federal funds, 5 percent with state funds, and 5 percent with local funds.)
City Administrator Dan Tienter said the local 5 percent will be paid with assessments to hangar owners, as well as airport fees already being paid to the city.
Tienter said he will have more project details available at the Tuesday, Nov. 21 public hearing.
Airport commission coming back
Mayor Steve Stotko said the city is in the process of reinstating the airport commission, with the hope of having it running by Jan. 1, 2018.
Anyone interested in serving can contact city hall. Applications are being accepted until Friday, Dec. 1. The commission has spots for two hangar owners, two Winsted residents, and one non resident. There will also be a non-voting Winsted City Council member liaison.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting, Police Chief Justin Heldt gave an update on his department’s activities. So far in 2017 (through the end of September), there have been 143 medical calls, 51 arrests, 19 accidents, and 10 driving while intoxicated (DWI) incidents.
Heldt said winter parking rules are in effect, so no parking on city streets is allowed between 2 and 6 a.m. If someone needs to park on the street, they can contact the police department ahead of time to ask for permission.
During the month of November, people who get parking tickets have the option of donating non-perishable food items instead of paying the fine with cash, as part of a “Food for Fines” program.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• heard that the brush site will close for the season Saturday, Nov. 18. Until then, residents can use it from 4 p.m. to sunset on Wednesdays, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Council Member Tom Ollig said he has had requests for additional brush site hours in the fall. Tienter said the council could consider this in the future, and that funding would be the main drawback.
• scheduled a truth-in-taxation hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.
• authorized designating Todd Geske of Metro West Inspection Services to be the certified building official for the City of Winsted, effective Sept. 25, 2017.
• authorized Tienter to initiate the enrollment process with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota to provide health insurance coverage for city employees beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The council also authorized the dental insurance renewal process with Delta Dental.
• authorized Stotko to execute an assessment agreement between the city and McLeod County for 2018, for a total amount not to exceed $12,075. Tienter said McLeod County is charging $10.50 per parcel for assessment services, which is the same as in 2017. The calculation method has changed, however, and is now broken into two parts: $7.50 is the charge per parcel, with a $3 maintenance fee. Tienter said Winsted was inadvertently not charged for 40 parcels in 2017, but that mistake has been corrected for 2018.
• heard that Tienter plans to have one-on-one meetings with each council member every six months, in order to address any questions/issues.
• heard that a conference for experienced elected officials will take place in Brooklyn Park the end of January.
• heard that the city is planning to buy a ladder truck from Eagan. The exact cost and delivery date are still being finalized. The purchase will likely be approved at either a regular council meeting or a special meeting.