The Monday, March 24, meeting of Chatfield's city council included three public hearings. The first was to address the proposed agreement with the Family Dollar store for the city's Twiford project, another was to take on the 2014 Bench Street and utility improvements and a third was to outline the street reconstruction plan.

Twiford project

First, modifications were made to the tax increment funding (TIF) district for the Twiford project, which will eventually make way for the construction of a Family Dollar store near Division Street.

Chatfield's economic development authority (EDA) representative, Chris Giesen, updated the council on progress after Mike Bubany of David Drown and Associates explained why tax increment funding is beneficial to the city's plans for the site.

Giesen commented that the consolidation of parcels of land on Twiford and Division has been made possible through a $233,000 grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

He stated, "We don't have a formal agreement drafted yet, but a month ago, we approved a purchase agreement...we're still tightening the nuts and bolts, and once we get them tightened down, we'll bring it back to you."

Bench Street hearing

The second public hearing encompassed discussion regarding new pavement and utilities along Bench Street. A particular item included paving from First Street to Sixth Street Southwest, as pavement on that route has been cracking and deteriorating.

The pavement there will be ground and milled for reuse as a base for the new pavement, and new water mains will be installed along Second Street and Bench Street to the alley by the VFW, with some improvements being made to Twiford Street, all at a cost of $1,428,920.

Residents along the affected streets will be assessed for new water service to their homes, and if they have more than one water service line to their properties, they could be assessed doubly unless they identify which service they actually use and wish to maintain.

A neighborhood open house was set for this past Monday, March 31, for residents to stop at city hall and make further inquiries about matters such as how their driveways will be accessed and what happens to water service during the project, as construction is set to begin after Memorial Day.

The third public hearing was in regard to the street reconstruction plan, as the end cost of the Bench Street project is approximately $1.9 million.

The council unanimously approved the resolution for the street reconstruction plan.

Reports

The public services report included proposals from Chatfield's fire department to improve the fire hall kitchen - decisions on that matter will be made at the next council meeting.

Chatfield Ambulance director Sue Kester sent a report that notes she is investigating increasing fees for emergency medical technician (EMT) training classes Chatfield offers since surrounding towns that also offer classes actually charge more.

The park department welcomed news that the swimming pool's manager plans to be onsite more this summer.

Councilor Robert Pederson inquired of city maintenance worker Tony Lammers, "Is everything all right at the pool?"

Lammers replied the pool is beyond its life span...the Band-Aid the city put on it is wearing out.

He added, "The skin coat we put on it in 1994 is wearing off, there are holes in the skimmers, and the wading pool has a constant loss of water."

Pederson acknowledged, "It was built in 1965...this is something that's got to be kept on top of."

Mayor Russ Smith reported that he intended to meet with Gov. Mark Dayton's staff to "stump for the Chatfield Center for the Arts and remind them to include it in his bonding bill."

He then reminded citizens that even though the air temperature might be 60 degrees, it's still not 60 degrees underground, so faucets should likely be left running until after the snow is melted.

Other business

The council granted approval for Dale and Nancy Timm to combine two lots they own into one in order to make improvements on both. This also simplifies zoning for the combined parcel.

The council voted to change downtown parking rules for early morning, as several local business owners have requested that parking be allowed at 5 a.m. instead of after 6 a.m. The council determined that the only real changes might be when the public works crew has to complete its plowing or clearing the streets in the downtown area. It was also noted that signs prohibiting parking between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. need to be replaced anyway, making the sign change to 5 a.m. a timely investment.

The public works department was granted permission to purchase another vehicle to be put into commission, as the vehicles the department has have been rotated to new uses.

The council also voted to allow the hire of Mitch Irish to assist with summer city maintenance duties.