The Mabel City Council discussed a number of topics during its monthly meeting on March 12. Topics included updating the city's recreation vehicles ordinance, an update on Cherrywood Drive improvements and easements, appraising a city-owned lot near Green Lea Manor for possible sale, an update on the city sewer project, along with numerous other topics.

Recreational vehicles ordinance

The council first discussed the possibility of updating the city's recreational vehicles ordinance at its meeting in February. This month, to follow up, City Clerk Karen Larson proposed the council create a subcommittee to look into the issue to make recommendations to the council next month.

"It's a lot to go over at a council meeting," Larson said. "Do you want to do a little subcommittee that would meet separately of the council and basically advise the council?"

Larson reported she had spoken with Fillmore County Deputy Jesse Grabau who helped update Harmony's recreational vehicle ordinance. Grabau is willing to meet with representatives from Mabel to assist in the city writing its own ordinance.

Council members stressed the importance of age requirements and proper child safety restraints on recreational vehicles as reasons prompting an updated ordinance.

Larson, along with council members Susan Amunrud and Laura St. Mary, will serve on the committee - likely updating the council on their progress next month.

"It defiantly needs to be updated," said Councilmember Terry Torkelson.

"...And enforced," Amunrud added.

Cherrywood Drive improvements

"Everything is in the homeowner's court," said Public Works director Bob Mierau, regarding the progress toward gaining easements for the city to eventually make improvements to Cherrywood Drive.

"All the paperwork has been completed, and what I mean by that, is that it's all written up," Mierau said. "They're all aware (the homeowners) that they need to sign - none of them have signed (the easement)."

The easement will give the city access to the street - which is a necessary part of the process to make improvements to the alley.

"I don't want to speak for them (the homeowners), but (maybe) they don't want to sign because they don't know what the improvements will be. I think as far as that goes you guys (the council) can't make any decisions or get any estimates until you have the land to say 'we know what we have (and we can) move forward'."

Property owners on Cherrywood Drive can stop by city hall to sign the easement at any time. The city is also preparing to send a second letter to property owners.

Appraisal of city-owned lot

Larson informed the council that someone had contacted city hall and expressed interested in purchasing the city-owned lot at 112 North Lyndale Street, across from Green Lea Manor Nursing Home.

"There was one lot over there - and they are looking at building a house and there isn't a lot of lots for sale in Mabel. So they asked if the city would be interested in selling," Larson said.

"I know it was initially set aside in case there was ever a city street (put through there)," Mayor Brian Street said.

Larson responded there would be other options for putting a street through in that area.

"You would need to do an appraisal (to move forward)," Larson said of the next step. She also noted that, legally, the city could sell the property without advertising or bidding the property. "A new house in town is always a good thing," she added.

"I just thought maybe if we put it out there that we're looking at selling it - and anyone interested can speak up then," St. Mary added.

The council voted unanimously to move forward with an appraisal of the property and then discuss the topic again once the appraisal is complete.

Water, sewer project updates

The council voted to make the city's first payment of $64,600 toward the city water and sewer renovation project. The city will also use financing through Minnesota Rural Water and over $700,000 in grant funds to complete the project.

Mierau reported there has been a delay in obtaining bids for the sewer and water rehabilitation portion of the project. The bid opening was suppose to be presented at the meeting that night.

Mierau said Davy Engineering reported only one contractor bid on the project and four other potential bidders needed more time to put together their bids and that two of the four asked for an extension.

"We want numerous bidders to capture the best cost...Davy (Engineering) recommended postponing it (the bid) for two weeks to hopefully get these other contractors to bid on the project," Mierau said.

The bid opening date was changed to March 26.

Other topics

The council voted unanimously to accept an agreement through Operating Engineers Local #49 that allows non-bargaining members to obtain union health insurance. Larson, the only non-bargaining employee, will be able to receive the same health insurance at a cost about $100 a month higher than other employees - but it remains much less than the cost of non-union health insurance.

Larson informed the council that Richard's Sanitation has increased its rates for trash removal from $5.60 to $5.65 a month per residence - which will be passed to city residents in their monthly bill. Also the cost of garbage bags is going up $.10 per bag.

The council discussed fees and compensation for the city's upcoming summer recreation programs. The council voted to raise the in-town rates for peewee softball to $20, Little League to $20 and flag football to $10 and leave the other rates the same. Rates for out-of-town residents will be $5 more per activity. The council also voted to make the wage for summer rec employees $7.50 an hour for first year employees and $8 an hour for employees after their first year of employment.

The city received a total of seven applications for their summer lawn mowing position. As of press time, the city still had been unable to reach the candidate they chose to fill the part-time position.

Mireau also noted it is a good idea for residents to keep their water running to prevent frozen pipes - possibly for another full month. If residents are choosing to keep water running, please contact city hall to notify them.