The Family SWIM Center is back under city management as of the Aug. 6 council meeting, when the USA Pools two-year management agreement was terminated.
The Family SWIM Center is back under city management as of the Aug. 6 council meeting, when the USA Pools two-year management agreement was terminated.
After a brief closed session to consult with city attorney Joe Hammell, the Spring Grove City Council cancelled its SWIM Center management contract with USA Pools on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Hammell summarized the closed session, stating, "The reason was that there have been a lot of problems with the management of the pool by USA Pools. We had some incidents and more problems recently, and the closed session was a discussion of what the city's legal situation is in regards to terminating the contract."

Back in open session, councilmember Lorilyn Dehning immediately made a motion to cancel the contract. The measure was amended to include hiring current pool staff back (as city employees) and passed by unanimous vote.

Main Street plans altered

Two identical 3-2 votes resulted in alterations to Main Street reconstruction plans.

The first was to delete the stamping and coloring processes from soon-to-be poured concrete in driveway areas along the sidewalk.

Former mayor Saundra Solum said that for safety reasons it should stay, since drivers would be alerted to the fact that pedestrians also use that zone.

The other motion was to eliminate the sidewalk guardrails that were planned for several areas. Solum said that separating parking and sidewalk areas with those was also a safety measure.

Mayor Bruce Poole said he was told that stamped concrete can become slick. "Last week during a meeting with MnDOT personnel, they said that they did not think we should put stamped concrete in front of the driveways," he stated. During the winter, water will sit in the pattern and freeze, creating a slippery surface for drivers.

Poole made the motion to leave stamping off driveways. Councilmember Nancy Nelson later asked that the motion be amended to also leave colorant out of the concrete mix in those areas, which was allowed.

Public Utilities Director Paul Morken said that neither stamping/coloring nor guardrails would add to the safety of the sidewalks.

"I recommend that we throw all the railings out and save that money for the fabric we need to put underneath the road to make it a better road," he stated. The total cost of the guardrails is $30,000 to $40,000, Morken added.

Nelson made the motion to remove all the guardrails from the plans. Both measures passed in spite of "no" votes from Dehning and councilman Robert Vogel.

In other Main Street news, American Legion Post #249 Commander Dean Johnson asked the council if his group could purchase reinforcing rod for the sidewalk in front of that building. "We do not want to have the sidewalks heave and become a liability for our post," he said. "If we purchase rebar, will they use it?"

Morken said he would talk to the sidewalk contractor about the offer.

Poole said that Main Street work is now lagging behind. Fallout from road damage after late June flash floods affected the availability of rock for the base, and work-scheduling headaches have followed.

Zoning permits discussed

Two zoning permits were debated. The first was from Gerhard Heier of 423 3rd Ave. NW, who was present with his attorney, Al "Skip" Wieser. Heier asked that the city vacate a section of right of way that has not been built, adding to his and a neighboring lot to make additional space for a garage.

Wieser suggested that if more development occurs in the area, access should be via 3rd and 6th streets, leaving the Fifth Street thoroughfare as-is. He added that his client didn't want to spend approximately $2,000 for a survey without some assurance from the city that he will be granted a building permit for the new garage.

Vogel reported that the Planning Commission did not recommend the vacation or the garage permit. As far as allowing the garage on that side of the lot, even with the added space side setbacks would be a problem, he noted. Vogel added that there are other options for siting a garage on the Heier lot.

"It's fairly cut-and-dried... It just doesn't fit (as proposed) and vacating doesn't seem to be in the public interest," he said.

The council voted to endorse the Planning Commission recommendations.

The second permit was for Kurt and Michelle Anderson of 229 4th Ave. NE to construct a porch addition to a home. It was approved with two conditions. First, footings are to be constructed that meet Planning Commission recommendations, and secondly, Morken will be contacted to check for utilities in the work area.

Administrative assistant hired

Interim Police Department administrative assistant Stephanie Jaster was hired to continue as a regular employee by unanimous vote. Her new wages were not set, but Dehning offered to investigate where Jaster would fit on the city's wage scale and report back at a later meeting.

Another hiring was done via the consent agenda. Brittany Stadtler was approved as a Corner Store bartender.

New basketball court will get study

On the recommendation of the Parks Commission, the council approved $1,500 for an engineering study on building a new basketball court near the old pool. Vogel said that existing courts are in poor shape, and the new location could fill a need. "It's one of the more heavily-used facilities in the park system," he noted. "Let's find out how much it would cost to build a new one."

The council also approved a 5K "color run" for the Uff Da Fest celebration. Organizer Patty Storlie said the event will be a "Run for the Arts" benefit for the Bluff Country Artists Gallery.

Budget session notes higher LGA from state

Council members also spent about 20 minutes in a 2014 budget workshop. Nelson stated that Local Government Aid from the State of Minnesota is set to increase by approximately $43,000 next year, which will have a positive effect on the city's tax levy.