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Pucks and pickleball discussions dominate Cokato council meeting
Feb. 14, 2020

Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN – Residents shared thoughts and concerns about park items during the Cokato City Council meeting Monday night.

Tom Luebesmier, who owns a property adjacent to Mooers Park, told the council that he wanted its assistance in determining a solution to stop hockey pucks from the park’s hockey rinks from hitting his home and garage and littering his yard.

Another neighborhood resident asked that the council figure out a way to lessen the amount of noise and light coming from the rink. The resident said noise from equipment clearing the rink – especially the beeping back up signal – was particularly disruptive.

Following discussion, the council agreed to install higher netting to catch errant pucks.

The council approved the use of light poles, slated to be removed along Highway 12 this summer, to be reworked for rink lights.

The old light poles, once removed from Hwy. 12, would be shortened and reinstalled for use at the rink. Lighting installed on the poles would be downward facing.

Greg Halonen approached the council next, and requested council support for additional pickleball courts.

He presented estimates for installing pickleball courts at Railroad Park or Mooers Park. The estimates ranged from approximately $18,000 to $100,000.

Halonen’s suggestion to put concrete under the hockey rink areas at Mooers Park caused some consternation with the residents who had just spoken about nuisance issues coming from that area.

Council members told Halonen that the city’s annual parks budget totaled $5,000, and reminded him that there were pickleball courts on the city’s tennis courts.

They suggested Halonen search for grant funding for the project, plan for it to be constructed in Railroad Park, and work with the city’s parks board once project funding was secured.

Interim administrator hired

As part of its consent agenda, the council approved the hire of Brad Potter for the city’s interim administrator position.

The agreement approved by the council compensates Potter at the rate of $72 per hour. Because he is an independent contractor, Potter’s wages will not be subject to federal and state income tax withholding deductions. Potter will also not be deemed an employee of the city, and will not be eligible for employee benefits.

Clerk/Treasurer Andrew Carlson told the council that Potter intended to work for Cokato Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Potter’s contract states he may work up to 40 hours per week.

Potter was available to start work with the City of Cokato the next day, Feb. 11.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• listened to resident Perry Siltala’s request for an update on what the city was intending to do about drainage issues on and near his property at 175 1st St. SW. He maintained the area had documented drainage issues dating back to the 1980s. City Engineer Josh Halvorson detailed three reasons why correcting the drainage issues would be cost-prohibitive.

• adopted a resolution approving a development agreement for the solar garden project in Laurel Village.

• listened to Cokato Museum Director Johanna Ellison’s annual report.

• authorized a pension benefit increase from $2,000 to $2,200 per year of service for the city’s volunteer firefighters.

• reviewed a quote from Brandel Electric for street lighting along Hwy. 12. The lighting is slated to be replaced at the conclusion of the Hwy 12 project this summer. The quote, from 2018, was for $123,500.

• was reminded that city hall would be closed Monday, Feb. 17, for Presidents Day.

• was reminded that the Presidential Nominating Primary is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at city hall.

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