The first order of business for the Spring Valley City Council during its regular meeting on June 24 was to review the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund grant (GMHFA) information passed on from the EDA. The grant, worth $77,000, will be available once the city closes with the GMHFA.

"It is a $5,500 increment loan that local businesses can use in conjunction with the small cities block grant. They would need to put up $5,500 of their own money to get the grant. This would be a loan that the EDA would cosign to facilitate, so there would be some risks if we go through with it," explained council member Jeff Vehrenkamp.

City Administrator Deb Zimmer who has been working with the city attorney, Kelly Wagner, on this matter, stressed that because of these risks the EDA will need to closely follow all guidelines and steps, such as thorough credit checks.

In 2017 the payback to GMHFA will begin and in 2018 the program will stop revolving. The city of Spring Valley will be required to pay the funds back in full by the end of 2020. There will be a separate fund established to account for these funds.

The council approved the EDA's request to move forward with this grant, which ideally will allow it to close on the loan by July 1. The funds will be available for low interest loans to downtown businesses to use to fix up apartments above commercial space.

In other business:

• At its last meeting, the EDA discussed ideas on how to use the 0.5 percent sales tax revenue from Rochester. The ideas include: an industrial park expansion, new construction incentive for residential housing, a commercial demolition incentive and a bed and breakfast incentive. These were heard and noted by the council.

• As part of the downtown revitalization the city has been allowing businesses to create temporary green spaces. While speaking with local businesses, Chateau de Chic and The Salsa Guy, it was found that businesses were not able to spontaneously set up this space due to a condition, which required them to address the city council for approval.

Zimmer explained that the businesses will be allowed to use two parking spaces in front of their location for a 48-hour window. They will only be allowed to use the space four times a month with a minimum three-day period between uses. And these businesses will no longer need to go before the council before they can set up the space as long as they follow these guidelines.

The council approved the motion to change the policy.

• Zimmer and maintenance superintendent Chad Hindt advised the council that a new lock system for the north gate at the wastewater treatment plant is needed now that the bike trail is open. They have been having issues with people cutting through to the south gate, which, with the open sewer pits and large machinery being moved, is a liability and safety issue. The city received a quote of $8,132 from Huntington Electric in conjunction with Sutherland Fence for the electric keypad lock system. The council approved the bid.

• According to library department head Dianne Sikkink, 87 kids are signed up for the summer reading program. She expressed that the kickoff for this program was last week and a huge success.

• The city maintenance crew has been busy staying ahead of the grass between showers while still cleaning up from the flood, explained Hindt, as well as filling potholes, planting trees, spraying and sweeping some streets after getting complaints that the county had not cleaned them yet.

• Parks and Rec director John Fenske told the council that the summer rec programs are now in full swing and going well. He also updated the council saying that the pool is now "perfect" after the project to fix leaks was completed.

• Fire Chief Chris Czapiewski said the department is up to 18 calls for the year, including three in the last week. In fact, they had just returned from a shed fire in Ostrander. The Spring Valley and Ostrander fire departments have been training together a lot and assisting each other with calls.

• Todd Jones asked the council to approve the ambulance and fire departments when they fill in for the Grand Meadow departments at the Deer Creek Speedway. Jones explained they are usually only called in a few times a year. The proposal was approved.

• All submitted Ag Days permits were approved.

• The council approved the revised terms of the Carr Crew balloon loan for the former HomeStyle Pizza.

• The next council meeting will be Monday, July 8, at 6 pm.