City goes forward with restroom construction,
approves transition of energy cooperatives
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 6:10 AM
"It's like 'if you build it, they will go'," said Chatfield Mayor Russ Smith, last Tuesday evening, addressing the matter of whether to proceed with the construction of a new restroom in the Thurber Building. The restroom would serve the area surrounding the council chambers and a meeting room, a room that formerly served as the senior dining site.
Mayor Russ Smith, right, presents a heritage preservation award to Tony and Melissa Klema during the May 27 Chatfield City Council meeting. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
The council re-examined the proposal for installing the restroom because it had been brought up at the May 12 meeting, complete with a bid.
City Clerk Joel Young pointed out the city faced a dilemma because only one bid had been obtained for the project, making it difficult to proceed now that bid has been made public.
"At this point, I think we need to do the project or wait a year or so," he said.
Councilor Mike Urban inquired as to how much the room, originally used for senior dining, is used, and whether people choose not to use the room for gatherings because there is no adjoining restroom.
Young replied, "Since we don't have senior dining...right now, there isn't anything compelling us to do this."
However, council member Robert Pederson acknowledged that the work to propose the project has been done and things are ready to go. "I say go for it and get the project done."
Pederson made a motion to proceed, and Councilor Ken Jacobson seconded, with the motion passing 3-1.
Alliant Energy renewal
The council approved the renewal of its franchise agreement with Alliant Energy in anticipation of the power company's impending departure from the city and transition of its customers to People's Cooperative Power and Tri-County Electric, companies that are part of the Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative (SMEC), a collaboration of power distributors.
Representatives of Alliant, People's and Tri-County were in attendance to answer questions about how the transition will affect service. They noted the transition might be beneficial, particularly because all Tri-County and People's customers will now be considered members of a cooperative and have voting rights if the matter is approved by the Public Utilities Commission.
Keith Sherman, of Alliant, thanked the city for the opportunity to serve residents and businesses, but pointed out "the industry has changed" and the time is right for the company to leave.
Tri-County's service is tentatively set to be assigned to the south substation and the rest will be assigned to People's.
Councilors expressed their concern that if there are no service trucks stationed in the city, response to an outage will take longer, but the representatives assured them a plan is being considered to handle such matters.
The company representatives asked the city to refer residents and business owners who may have any concerns to contact the companies for answers.
Cleanup on Hawley street
Young's report included information about the progress of cleanup at 339 Hawley Street, where an agreement between the owner and city has been made, but Young stated he felt "it's time to get proposals to haul the trailer off the property."
Smith cited, "We want a bare lot when someone gets done there." A motion to seek someone willing to clear the lot passed.
In other business, Jacobson made a motion to purchase used hockey boards from the city of Elk River for $15,000 plus dismantling and transportation. This followed an update by city maintenance foreman Tony Lammers on the proposed replacement of the Mill Creek hockey rink's boards, which might be valued at $5,000 and sold as public surplus.
In park and rec news, council member Dave Frank reported the park board had talked about the hockey boards and also taken a look at the swimming pool to see what work it needs before opening on June 5.
Winners of this year's Chatfield Heritage Preservation Award were named during the meeting. Tony and Melissa (Wood) Klema were recognized for their efforts in restoring their storefront at Adourn and also their home on Fillmore Street. Smith thanked them for making an investment in Chatfield's future through preserving the buildings of its past.
A word of thanks
Jacobson expressed his appreciation to everyone who has made an effort to assist in garnering state funding for the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA), which recently received $5.3 million at the close of the spring legislative session.
Smith observed that most projects that legislators include on state bonding tours are given an amount to be matched, but "all the volunteerism and work that we've already done...everything we've done so far matches, and that's amazing, because that doesn't happen very often at all."