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Dassel City Council hears concerns from residents
July 19, 2019

Sara Cronk

DASSEL, MN – Dassel City Council, during Monday’s regular meeting, heard from a few members of the public.

Elaine Kuester spoke on behalf of herself and her neighbors who live on Circle View Dr. She explained that when their development was put in, one part was left as a designated wetland, as well as a spot for a park.

Kuester said she and her neighbors are concerned that the area isn’t being mowed, and that the level of standing water was breeding mosquitoes and ticks. Chad Ardoff, who lives next to the area, explained to the council what the situation was. The council stated that it would have Public Works Director Mitch Otten take a look at the water and grass situation.

Another resident, Barb Lothe, expressed concern about the deep potholes on CJ Moe Blvd. While the potholes are filled in with gravel at the moment, when it rains or there is heavy traffic, the gravel comes out and the potholes become dangerous, according to Lothe. She requested that the city do something about the potholes. Mayor Ron Hungerford stated that he would like to go take a look at them himself.

Resident Jack Adams lodged a complaint with the city over an easement. Due to a plugged storm sewer pipe on the property line between the city street and his property, the city needs access to his land to repair the pipe. The exit point of the pipe has eroded, and the city would need to repair that as well. Adams said he was unhappy with the current easement, though he stated he would be willing to work with the city. The other option is for the city to put in a new storm sewer pipe in a different location.

Sewer plant

Public Works Director Mitch Otten asked the council for approval to buy lab equipment to get the 20-year-old sewer plant to a level where it could be used this year. The equipment would cost $6,094. Otten explained that when he was hired as public works director, there was a discussion about using the old plant to make sure it was still functional.

“This year being an exceptionally wet year as it has been, I actually need the space in the ponds before winter comes,” Otten said. There would be approximately 17 million gallons flowing through the sewer plant if used. The purchase was approved 3 to 1, with Mayor Ron Hungerford and council members Tom Weseloh and James Hallquist voting in favor, and Council Member Drew Carlson opposed.

Soft water at the Dassel History Center

Museum Director Carolyn Holje presented three potential bids to install a water softener in the Dassel History Center. The current lack of softened water causes mineral build-up in the toilets and sinks, as well as in the appliances. Adding soft water would increase the lifetime of the various appliances, including the dishwasher, as well as keep toilets and sinks looking cleaner.

The council accepted Kinetico’s bid of $8,290, with the Dassel Area Historical Society splitting the cost for the installation 50/50. Council members Tom Weseloh and James Hallquist voted in favor, while Council Member Drew Carlson opposed. The bid does not include plumbing costs.

Nuisance ordinance

In a special meeting prior to the regular meeting, the council reviewed potential updates to the city’s public nuisance ordinance. There will be a public hearing regarding the ordinance at the September city council meeting. Some changes discussed included a limit on the number of vehicles on a property.

Agenda management software

City Clerk/Treasurer Terri Boese recently attended a webinar run by TownCloud. She recommended getting the agenda management software to try until December. The software would cost $50/month. She said she believes the software would improve efficiency, save paper, and take less employee time.

“The biggest thing would be if it makes it more efficient, we can save some money that way, too,” Hungerford commented.

Carlson asked city attorney Kurt Greenley to review the service agreement before the city starts using it. The council will vote on whether or not to use it at the August meeting.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved a revised version of the sign ordinance unanimously following a public hearing. No public comments were received.

• approved the trade-in of a Bobcat and tractor from public works for a Toolcat, which takes the place of three pieces of equipment. The vote was 3-1, with Hungerford, Weseloh and Hallquist in favor, and Carlson opposed.

• approved a $2,436,100 Public Facilities Authority (PFA) taxable loan at an interest rate of 1 percent for the water treatment plant rehabilitation proposal the city has been working on for the past six months. The city opened bids in June and accepted the low bid for the project. The next step was to secure the PFA funding for a 20-year term.

• approved a $4,000 bid to install an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramp to access the city council stage.

• approved Thirsty’s Tavern’s request to block off Atlantic Avenue for Red Rooster events.

• noted that due to a change from the Minnesota Department of Health, the annual water service connection fee that the city is required to collect from each user increased from $6.36 to $9.72, beginning in 2020.

• approved a proposal to repair the fire suppression system at the Dassel History Center at a cost not to exceed $1,655.

• approved a $1,100 quote to add pickleball lines to the tennis courts.

• approved a $30/month phone stipend for Museum Director Carolyn Holje.

• was notified of an opening on the planning commission, as a member has moved out of Dassel.

• approved the resignation of Jose Almanzen from the Dassel Fire Department.

• appointed Nora Dorsey to the DC Trail Committee as the community member at-large.

• renewed the Dassel-Cokato Area Trail Committee memorandum of understanding for a period of three years.

• appointed election judges for the special election Tuesday, Aug. 13. They are: J. David Anderson, Ruth Karli, Susan Stueck, Della Robertson, Marge Piepenburg, Tracey Bergum, head judge; and Terri Boese, head judge.

• conducted a probationary review of Otten in a closed session.

• approved claims of $616,257.

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