The question of whether to dig in - or not - arose at the Monday, June 23, Chatfield City Council meeting as councilors examined the prospect of beginning the 2014 street projects on Bench, Twiford, St. Albans and also on streets in West Chatfield. The easement on St. Albans is now signed, but the final plats on Twiford are rather confusing, as the original plats date back to territorial days.

Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young explained, "At the last meeting, the St. Albans easement was not in place, and yesterday, the property owner signed it with certain conditions - surveying, restoring and re-seeding the land, and protection against annexation and unwanted hookups."

The council accepted the signature of the easement agreement, then went on to hear an update from city engineer Dillon Dombrovski.

The engineer reported the final plats were approved at the last council meeting, but that changes to the sanitary sewer and other utilities leading to Twiford, where a national chain store is to be built, have not been accepted.

"We've taken bids that are good for 30 days and the first option is to award the bids with some trust factor occurring for Twiford, or award the entire project minus Twiford - do Bench, St. Albans and West Chatfield, or ask the contractor to hold his bids," Dombrovski said.

If the city chose to go that second option, it would be pushing the schedule and would need to update the completion date.

Dombrovski said the contractor is concerned about cold weather and concrete or if it goes into the spring, he'd need to revise his prices.

"We could also re-bid Twiford at a later date, or we could reject all bids and change the schedule to next spring into summer," he added.

The council debated at length whether awarding the bid to the contractor without the Twiford plat finalized would be prudent.

Mayor Russ Smith posited that if the council is "confident that this will be hammered out," the entire project could be started.

However, Councilor Ken Jacobson stated, "I feel less comfortable with this...maybe we should have to wait two weeks."

Councilman Mike Urban asked whether doing so would affect the bonding process, and Young replied that "it's set up that we were going to award it two weeks ago...the grant for St. Albans is more pressing than when it comes to the grant deadline than the one for Twiford," as both projects are made possible in part through grants received from the state.

The council explored what might be feasible if the contractor were to begin other parts of the entire street project before tackling the Twiford project. After hearing the possibilities all options had to offer, the city council members had more to say about the project.

Jacobson expressed his reticence at awarding the project because "in the past, we've done things like this and gotten caught" in a contract dilemma with money already committed.

Smith asked if the council would like to award three-quarters of the project and table the Twiford project.

Urban wanted to know what would happen if the council awarded the entire street project and the Twiford project didn't pan out.

Dombrovski explained that in that situation, a change order would be necessary.

A vote passed with three for and two against the awarding of the entire project, and Dombrovski informed the councilors that he would get the contracts prepared in the next days.

Financing improvements

Mike Bubany of David Drown & Associates arrived to speak with the council regarding the $1.725 million general obligation bonds associated with the street improvement project.

"The discussion is whether you want to start the process or not. We could push the process off until the next meeting," he said, elaborating that there are still financing options available on the calendar, though some do have implications.

Young wanted to know whether the Twiford funding is still valid in September if nothing is done now, and Bubany answered positively.

Bubany will return to the July 14 council meeting to assist the city further with its street project financing.

Property cleanup

Young outlined the ongoing arrangements being made for junk violation cleanup at 339 Hawley Street, noting the council had obtained a waiver from the owner in February to proceed with cleanup.

"Since then, the property owner has found someone who can clean it up cheaper, and they want the council to step back," Young explained. "I told the property owner that I wasn't sure that the council was willing to do that."

He shared that the owner wanted to be given an Oct. 1 deadline to complete the task using a private party, or if the work isn't done, the city would then be allowed to do it.

Urban said, "I think we need to do this and get it done. They keep assuring us, and their assurances keep changing."

Frank concurred, "I think it's sat too long, and it needs to be taken care of."

Pederson agreed, "I feel really bad for the property owner, but it's not right that it keeps going on and on because the neighbors deserve better. It's overdue."

Jacobson added, "This is the fourth time since I've been on the council that we've had to deal with the issue. Promises, promises, but no action."

The council voted to proceed with city cleanup of the property.

Police officers hired

Three part-time police officers have been added to the city's roster as resources when Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox needs to draw someone to fill part-time hours.

Dave Friese, Ken Bradford and Ryan Quanrud have all been hired to wear the department's badge.

Public works

Tony Lammers spoke about the city water tank inspections, relaying that a company is available to videotape the condition of the inside of the town's water tanks or towers without interrupting water service.

"I believe it was painted and inspected in 1996, so it's time to check out what we've got inside," he said. "We can't see inside, but we want to keep things from getting any worse."

A motion passed to have the tanks inspected by camera.

Lammers then requested permission from the council to have Schwickert's patch the roof at the wastewater treatment plant "before that gets any worse."

Councilors approved the $5,900 job.

Western Days

Western Days Committee member Pam Bluhm inquired whether the 2014 parade route could be changed due to construction and general parade lineup congestion.

"Right now, we have 55 units, and it's not even July," she said. "We have a new suggestion for this year...the parade route will be as long, but we'd like to start on Spring Street, go from Main to Sixth, then left on Fillmore to Root River State Bank, and after that, the units can go where they need to. We'd like to request using Highway 52 to Division for lineup."

Urban asked, "This is just one year for the parade route?"

Bluhm replied that it will only be the 2014 route and that it might offer those who haven't been able to sit in their front yards to watch a chance to do so."

Reports

In public services, Jacobson reported, "There's not a lot brought forward," but that the committee discussed the prospect of replacing squad car video systems.

Next, Frank updated the council on park and recreation business. "We met with Michelle Olig and got a pool update. Everything's running smoothly and she's trying to set up lap swim for a couple nights a week. Help Our Neighbors (HON) would like to collaborate with the tourist center to see if they can get a little more visibility, too."