Wykoff's city council received an update at its May meeting on the permitting process for the construction of the town's proposed new wastewater treatment plant, as Kevin Graves of WHKS, the city's engineering firm, appeared before the councilors to present a schedule for the permits, plans and bidding related to the plant.

Graves first apologized for not attending the April meeting, as he cited that he had found not enough new information to bring before the council and chose not to make the drive from Rochester but had not notified the mayor or the city clerk. He told the council that after the April meeting, he received the second round of comments from Rural Development and sent the updated plans and specs.

"I feel that we've addressed all the comments and that part of the process is complete. We're submitting the permit package to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to review our construction plans and to update our operating permit," he told the council. "We started running into roadblocks - the frustrating part is that the regulatory agencies control the purse strings and make the rules."

He assured the council that while DEED does not like to give extensions for its grant money, the city would most likely be on track to have a new wastewater treatment plant by the end of July 2014 if bidding is done this August and construction begins this September.

Mayor Lyman Hare questioned Graves about the permits for the plant and why the city's project seems to be behind schedule, endangering $500,000 in grant money from DEED which must be used by the end of the calendar year. He pointed out to Graves that he had declined a phone call from him based on the lack of response and that he had spoken with DEED representative Michelle Vrieze, who shared that there was frustration on behalf of the organizations that were waiting for paperwork from WHKS.

Graves replied that he felt that the city would "still be able to meet funding and its schedule," even though the project is behind due to various factors.

Councilor Jeremy Comstock asked, "Almost a year late?"

Graves answered, "When we started in March 2012, that was an optimistic timeframe."

Comstock then asked, "Who's responsible for paying WHKS for an extra year of service?"

Graves stated that the contract between the city and WHKS is "on a project basis, not on time," and that the company has actually taken losses in the process of working on the project for longer than anticipated. "We intend to do everything in our power to stay on schedule and have the grant money stay with the city. It's good to have a second voice from the city expressing concerns."

Councilor Megan Larson wanted to know "what percent of the drawings will be done" and whether there will be additions to the plans once the drawings are completed.

Graves said that "there is always potential for change orders."

Larson then asked, "When the project is complete and if the plant doesn't work, like Fountain's doesn't, who's responsible?"

Graves said that while he is not familiar with Fountain's new wastewater treatment plant, "there are several measures in the documents for the city, and there will be performance and maintenance bonding in the contract."

Next, Wykoff Fire Chief Wade Baker requested that the council allow him to order equipment, as the fire department's flashlights need new batteries, its water backpacks for responding to grass fires need to be replaced, and the department's reflective safety vests also aren't as visible as they should be in the dark. He asked the council to consider three new backpacks at $150 each and 10 new vests at $25 each.

Mayor Hare inquired as to what the department needs immediately and what could be included on the June agenda in order for the council to examine costs, and the council granted funds for some of the equipment Baker requested.

Meeting visitor Tim Zwart, whose home is on the streets that grain company CHS has its grain bins and elevator, spoke about how he'd attended a city zoning meeting and heard comments on what can be done to make the commercial-residential neighborhood more pleasant for residents, as the streets are used by farmers hauling grain to the elevator and have crumbled under the weight of the loads.

"It made me start thinking that we need a truck route, and that I'd like to see it done before harvest," he said. "There's more business, there's more trucks and vehicles in and out, and I don't want to see someone get hurt."

Councilor Mitch Grabau stated that the zoning committee has preliminary maps drawn up and that the construction coming to local highways will affect the progress somewhat, but that the committee is "trying to get it done."

Business involving Wykoff's community center included repairing a stove at a cost of $776.66 - with repairs done by Southeast Mechanical of Chatfield - and purchasing three new 100-cup coffee makers at a cost of $165 each and four 18-quart roasters at approximately $50 each. Repairs to the fire hall roof will be done, as unused holes cut in the building for various heat and air exchange services are in need of filling.

Complaints about CSC Towing's salvaged and salable vehicles being visible from the street instead of housed inside a fence, as agreed upon in the business's conditional use permit (CUP), have been brought to the council, but council member Rocky Vreeman pointed out that the owner is moving the vehicles outside the fence in order to re-roof the building located on the corner of Main and Highway 80.

Lastly, Hare listed the agenda on the May agenda. "I'd like to know if you like how it's set up," he stated, noting that the visitor's portion of the agenda allows residents to sign in and be given three minutes' time to speak of their concerns. "I hope that it allows them to come in and tell about what they're concerned about and then go home instead of waiting through the meeting. If they'd like to be on the agenda, that's OK and they can ask before a meeting, but I feel if they'd just like to sign in and have a few comments, it works."

Councilors agreed with Hare that the agenda's structure works well.