Council hears historical society update,
continues industrial park discussion
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 3:07 AM
Dick Petsch presented an annual funding request from the Preston Historical Society (PHS), along with an update on projects, during the May 19 Preston City Council meeting.
"Right now, the Preston Historical Society is not working on any major projects, but we are working on some smaller ones, mostly maintenance items," he said. "We are getting a metal grate for the dump pit on the west side (of the historic elevator located near the trailhead) and we are planning to install Plexiglas in the doors on the west side so people can look in, but we are not going to let people go into it at this time."
The PHS is working on putting a fence around the whole perimeter of the elevator outside of the railroad tracks and around the property after it was concluded to be a potential hazardous area.
The restoration of the caboose is another project on the agenda for the group.
Petsch continued, "We are in the last part of the restoration on that. We've got the outside all painted and everything on the inside is done; the doors have had all their locks rebuilt. The stenciling is ready to go, so as soon as we get some nice weather, which is very iffy in Minnesota, we'll get that put on there. It will be stenciled as was originally done in 1951."
The group asked for $3,000 of municipal support to go towards these upcoming projects, though for the last five years the city has authorized only $2,500.
Councilmember Robert Maust explained, "I thought we put $3,000 in the budget this year for the Preston Historical Society, so I said we should give the city an invoice for $3,000."
City Administrator Joe Hoffman confirmed $2,500 was the amount budgeted for the PHS in 2014, but he explained the council did have the option of paying the $3,000 amount for this year then revising the budget for the next year.
Maust noted all the PHS properties are owned by the city. The city also pays for the insurance for the property.
After the council concluded the city would be liable for any incidents occurring on the property, the council agreed to pay the $3,000, mainly to go toward the fencing, and will look into increasing the budget in 2015.
Industrial park update
Since the previous council meeting, Hoffman was told the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) would be delaying a decision on the Preston grant request for the proposed industrial park until sometime after the bonding bill is approved.
As for the proposed relocation of the storm water ponds, the Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative (SMEC) has decided not to cooperate in the city's effort to acquire two of their lots, leaving the city to look at different options.
"We realize no one on the council wants to see the storm water retention pond on the industrial site, so there are a couple of options," city engineer Brett Grabau stated.
The first option would involve building a regional storm water pond on the Wingert property, though no city staff has contacted the family.
Grabau noted, "There would be some positives to that, obviously it takes care of regional ponding for everything that is upstream."
The next option, called the Branding Iron option, would take the water from the industrial park drainage site to a separate drainage area. For this the city would need to get an easement from private property owners or get permission to go through Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) property. The water would flow to the pond located near the Branding Iron, but to do this the city would, again, need permission from MnDOT.
"Although I can't tell you it's not completely doable to go to that pond, I don't think it is the best option that we have," Grabau surmised.
The third option would involve the pond located on the Anderson Farm. For this option the city would need to obtain an easement from the golf course to create an open channel flow across the property, as well as get permission from property owners who would be affected downstream because this option would be changing the drainage pattern. Most importantly, the city would need to be granted ownership of the pond in question. It should be noted, none of these property owners were contacted prior to the council meeting.
The final option for the council would be to create a dry pond on the industrial park site. This option would cover the retention capacity the city would need to meet but not the storm water quality.
In order to meet both requirements, the city could look into installing grit chambers, also called sedimentation tanks, but these can cost upwards of $100,000 a unit, Grabau noted.
"I do think the council needs to be prepared to consider that option (keeping the pond on site)," Hoffman concluded.
"Unfortunately, I may have started more conversations than answered questions," Grabau said of the ongoing issue.
Mayor Kurt Reicks questioned the amount of money the city should be putting into this project as community members are already concerned with the amount being spent on the Twenty-14 street project.
"Finally we're seeing some activity. If you want to attract something you have to offer something," Maust replied.
The council agreed the next step would be to contact property owners to see if these options are even a possibility and create a feasibility study to find out the potential costs of the options.
Trout Unlimited project
"There is an effort to acquire funding to restore the trout habitat on the Root River through town, specifically the section from South Bridge to where Camp Creek flows in. (Minnesota) Trout Unlimited and the DNR will be taking the lead on the effort," Hoffman told the council.
They intend to apply for state funding through the Outdoor Heritage Legacy Grant administered by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Commission.
The project, presumably scheduled for 2015, would repair and stabilize the steep high banks with grading and armored embankments, it would also include the removal of weedy tree species and woody debris and the installation of 11 safer access points, three of which will be ADA compliant.
For its part, the city is being asked to grant permission to work on city property along the river and to contribute in-kind tree removal services in select areas. No direct cash is being requested.
The council approved the city's participation in the project.
Bluff Country Manufacturing
The Preston Economic Development Authority (EDA) recommended the council approve a $10,000 loan from the revolving loan fund (RLF) at 2.5 percent interest to be repaid over 15 years for Bluff Country Manufacturing.
The company will be using the loan to help construct a new building at the proposed industrial park location.
The council approved the loan with no discussion.
Fillmore County AED Grant
The city of Preston will be receiving three additional Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) thanks to the Fillmore County AED Collaborative, which was able to secure a competitive federal grant to add over 70 AEDs to numerous city and county locations.
According to Hoffman, the AEDs will be located at the fire hall, power plant and city shop.
Family Fun Night
The Preston Chamber of Commerce asked the council to once again approve the closure of Main Street for three nights during the summer to hold Family Fun Nights.
The closures would occur on June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The motion was approved.
The next council meeting is scheduled for June 2, though due to scheduling issues with the mayor and councilmembers, it was noted the date may be changed. One may look on the city website closer to the meeting date for the exact date and time.