A public hearing was held on Tuesday, Aug. 12, during the Harmony City Council’s regular meeting, to receive input on whether or not the city of Harmony should apply for a $35,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The council voted to apply for the funds and pursue the purchase and installation of a new civil defense siren and a generator for the fire hall.
With the deadline for the application coming the next day, City Administrator Jerome Illg explained the city was eligible for up to $35,000 in grant funds, which would not only allow the city to purchase the new siren it discussed at previous meetings, but also a new generator for the fire hall, which Illg said would “provide another layer of public safety.”
With the city providing matching funds, to utilize the entire grant, the city could fund a $54,000 project — the city’s portion would be approximately $20,000.
Illg handed out information that outlined the costs of a generator to cost approximately $34,000 and the siren would be about $20,000 installed.
Basically, he added, the city had already been considering spending $20,000 on the siren, so with the grant funding, the city would get a generator for no cost.
The council approved a resolution to apply for the grant from the USDA.
First Avenue project
In another matter, Brett Grabau from Stantec, the city’s engineering firm, was present at the meeting to report on the progress of the First Avenue Southwest project.
He said the contracted completion date was Tuesday, Aug. 26, and he felt the contractors had the manpower and the ability to meet that deadline. “If not,” he added, “we anticipate they will be completed at least by the start of school.”
Grabau explained the concrete work would be completed by Friday, Aug. 15, and the contractors were prepping the streets for paving.
He did address a few concerns he had heard from residents about the height of the new curbs, but assured the council that they had been replaced the same as the previous curbs.
He did admit some were low, to meet the minimum grade for the storm sewer, but most were going back in as close to the prior grades as possible.
Council member Jerry Shuck noted that he feels some of the driveway aprons may be steeper than they were before and that some residents could experience issues with scraping the bottoms of their cars.
“They have to be less than 12 percent,” Grabau said, “and, to be honest, we aim to have them closer to 8 to 10 percent.”
“They (the driveways) have to be accessible, have to be useable,” Shuck responded.
“And they will be,” Grabau assured him.
Planning and zoning
Illg told the council that the planning and zoning commission had reviewed the ordinance regarding residents living in commercially-zoned property and have decided to leave the ordinance as written.
He noted that the city is aware of four buildings affected by the ordinance, which only allows residents to live above the first floor in a commercially-zoned property. Illg said a couple of property owners/renters are living in the main part of the buildings while others are living in basement apartments in other commercial buildings.
The council decided that it would enforce the ordinance if anyone came into the city office with a complaint on the issue and would enforce it across the board for the properties the city is aware of.
Shuck stated he felt it was important the city enforce it, if any complaints come in, but that residents must be given adequate notice for relocation.
Mayor Steve Donney, having failed to file for reelection, told those attending the meeting he had every intention of seeking his office for another term.
In his monthly report, Chris Johnson of the city maintenance department, said he and the other maintenance workers had responded to a few issues on the First Avenue project and a water leak by Solberg Welding. He also told the council that the well located behind QUARTER/quarter restaurant is still down after its pump failed and is being repaired. Johnson reported it is taking longer than expected to fix the pump as the company working on the pump is waiting for parts.
• Illg also reported Hammel Equipment has had a tough time locating a tractor, as specified by the city, after being awarded the bid of sale at last month’s meeting. Illg did note, however, that Hammel’s did locate a new tractor in a 2013 model rather than the 2014 as was bid. Illg told the council Hammels would reduce the price by $1,500 and the city should be assured that the change of models would not affect the tractor’s resale value in the future.
• Deb Swenson presented the EDA board report, noting a few upcoming community events, including the Taste of the Trail events in September and the Fall Foliage Festival the first weekend of October. She also noted the EDA was recommending the council approve a revolving loan of $25,000 to the new owner of Torgerson Floor Covering. The terms of the loan repayment are 10 years at 3 percent interest. Swenson also told the council that an exception would be made regarding the amount of equity provided by the borrower, however the EDA was comfortable with the terms and are dedicated to keeping the business open.
• Lynn Mensink reported on the activities addressed by the park board, explaining Trevor Wangen had resigned from his position as the summer maintenance worker. The board had approved hiring Blake Bigalk to finish up the season as a temporary, part-time employee through September or earlier, depending on the weather.
• Mensink also reported on the library board activities and clarified an issue discussed at last month’s council meeting regarding the fines for overdue books. Mensink explained the library was not issuing any fines for overdue books at this time and are sending email reminders to patrons who may need to return books to save money.
• In her third committee report, for the arts board, Mensink noted that Ruth Delano and another Fillmore Central student will be joining the arts council as student representatives following the graduation of Sarah Reicks and Nick Powell.
• Finally, Swenson brought up the issue of dogs running free throughout town, which spurred a brief discussion about animals as nuisances and that residents should call the Sheriff’s office if one has a complaint. Illg stressed that residents should call at the time the issue is occurring so the officers can respond in a more timely manner so they too can witness if there is a problem.