City council meets just after flood waters crest in Preston
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 4:21 AM
City administrator Joe Hoffman described the details of the recent flood at the May 20 Preston City Council. Only an hour prior to the meeting, the waters which had made their way from west Fillmore County had caused the South Branch of the Root River to crest at around 938 feet above sea level. Hoffman said this was the highest the water had been since the flood of 2008, which had reached 941.5 feet above sea level.
He shared that a number of road closures had been put in place by Preston Public Works, including a part of Fillmore Street by the old Milwaukee elevator where water ran across the road.
The flood, he shared, wasn't threatening, just inconvenient. The city had a gauge on the river near Carimona, but was unable to take readings due to faulty technological communications with the National Weather Service. Manual readings were taken.
Hoffman let the council know that 500 sandbags were on hand to be used if needed, but it never came to that. He mentioned one of the only expenses would come from repairs to West River Road outside of the city.
Hoffman also went through an update on city projects. He explained that the 2014 street improvement project was at the stage when sewer lines would be televised. He said the cost for televising them would cost around $10,000. This process helps the city determine what condition the lines are in and whether the streets with them in will require a full reconstruction or just a resurfacing. A feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of June which would allow a full order of plans to be created.
In an electric utilities update, Hoffman explained the catalytic converters which were recently installed at the power plant and south substation. In accordance with the Clean Air Act, the city installed these in order to meet a 70 percent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions. The converters were designed to reduce emissions by 85 percent and they cost over $200,000. Hoffman said the payback on the project will only take a few years, it will increase the air quality in Preston, and is an overall great upgrade for the city.
Hoffman also mentioned the Trailhead storm water drainage design. The city had specialists from the University of Minnesota map the flow of water through town, find spots of potential contamination and design a new plan to redirect flow in the trailhead area. The city had received a grant to get this preliminary work done.
Eight comprehensive plan proposals were received by the city. Three applicants underwent phone interviews. A recommendation on who should put the proposal together will be made at the Jun 3 council meeting.
A short discussion was held on the retaining walls along St. Anthony Street. Councilman Charles Sparks said those had been put in when the county had redone County Road 17 in 2004. Already, parts of the wall are being pushed out and Hoffman said it won't necessarily be an easy thing to fix.
After the project update, Hoffman explained that National Trout Center (NTC) Director Heath Sershen, George Spangler, Dan Christianson, and himself had met to discuss revising their budget and their fundraising efforts. The NTC is beginning their fundraising campaign which will include mailed and face-to-face solicitations. At the June 20 council meeting, the NTC will present their second quarterly report and give the council a bearing on how to approach spending for the remainder of the year as well as for the 2014 budgeting process.
The council approved a resolution to sponsor an application made by the NTC to the DNR for the State Water Trails 50-Year Anniversary Grant. The approximately $13,000 from this grant would be used to purchase pedi-cabs which are vehicles powered by bicycling. The NTC would use them to provide a volunteer shuttle service out to a spot along the Root River which can be accessible from the bike trail. Sparks said it would be one more thing that could bring good public relations to the NTC.
Councilman Robert Maust explained an event to be put on by the Preston Historical Society on Sept. 14 and 15. It will be a tractor ride beginning from the Fillmore County fairgrounds on both the Saturday and Sunday that weekend and the rides will be around 50 miles long. Both rides would begin and end at the fairgrounds. Maust said there would probably be a $50 fee to cover costs of meals. Camping at the fairgrounds would cost $20. The entire event would be a fundraiser for the Preston Historical Society.
The council approved a court data subscriber agreement, which is a joint powers agreement that allows the city to share data between the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the city police and city attorney.
The next council meeting will be held June 3 at city hall