Bob Mierau, Mabel's city maintenance director, updated the city council on a few issues that need to be addressed as Mabel prepares to continue with the improvement projects to the water and sewer system. The discussion took place last Monday evening, Feb. 11, during the regular city council meeting, which had been moved up two days due to Ash Wednesday falling on the normal meeting night.

Mierau explained that the site where the proposed water tower will be located is accessible by a road that Don Gjere built to access lots on his housing development. The city would need to get an easement for the water tower and for access to it. In exchange, the Gjeres would like to see the road blacktopped, which would be the city's responsibility.

Mierau added that a rough estimate of the cost to do this would be $10,000. He also noted that Brian Gjere had agreed to granting the city an easement pending the council's approval to blacktop the road.

"I'm asking the city to approve this so we can move forward on the project," he told the council. He also told the council that the estimate may be on the high side considering road construction crews will be in the area on other projects this summer, so blacktop costs may be more reasonable if contractors are already here on other jobs.

City Clerk Jim Narum noted the council should specify that the $10,000 would be a maximum cost, but he saw no other concerns regarding the agreement. The council approved the request with the "worst-case-scenario" estimate of $10,000.

Currently the project is moving forward with the city and Rural Development finalizing the plans. Mierau explained, "We have been sending questions and answers back and forth, trying to finalize the plans and determine the extent of the project."

Narum added, "Hopefully, we have all the questions answered so we can move forward. We want to get the bids out in early spring."

Fire station remodeling

Narum also told the council that the fire department is once again talking about making improvements to the EMS building.

To make room for another truck to get inside the building, the department is proposing to knock out a wall and turn the offices on the north side of the building into another truck bay.

Narum said it would not affect the meeting room or the kitchen area of the building.

The department would volunteer their labor in taking out the wall and any other destruction. Then, Narum said, the project costs are not expected to exceed $5,000.

While discussing the building, Mierau pointed out that it should also be reshingled at some point and it needs to have a new heating system installed. "We're getting along OK this year," he added, "but we should address it by next fall."

Narum pointed out that the EMS building had been built nearly 30 years ago. "I guess if it needs a bit of updating, we shouldn't be surprised," he added.

In another request from the fire department members, they suggested changing the current policy for rewarding those with perfect attendance with $100 to paying $10 for each meeting the members attend. The council approved the change.

Maintenance report

Mierau updated the council on the operations of the wastewater treatment plant and the process of renewing its operating permit.

He said the representative from MMUA (Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association) had visited Mabel and conducted its annual safety audit. "He gave us a list of minor things that we've been working on to improve."

Mierau also noted that there had been a sewer blockage at the nursing home, but it did not create any severe back-ups in any of the local residences.

There was a broken pipe outside of the wastewater treatment plant, but that has been dealt with. "There is always something going on there," Mierau said with a shake of his head.

Finally, Mierau reported that the city of Mabel's wastewater treatment plant permit will be expiring and he has submitted the proper paperwork to apply for a renewal. He did not foresee any trouble getting the new permit, but did say the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency does require more testing, which will cost the city more when paying for lab work.

Tree program

The council agreed to once again offer the shade tree program where the city shares in the cost of planting trees on residential properties.

Mierau explained that the city works with The Treehouse in LeRoy and they have agreed to honor last year's prices.

If any resident wishes to plant a tree, they are asked to contact the city office by April 1. Mierau hopes to be planting the trees yet in April.

Deputy clerk

The council ended the meeting by reviewing the applications for the deputy city clerk position that will be open when Narum retires at the end of March and current deputy clerk, Karen Larson, moves into the clerk position.

A total of 17 applications were received and a few council members will be interviewing candidates over the next few weeks.