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Crosslake Council Moves Forward On New City Hall Building Plan

Web posted May 21, 2019
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

The Crosslake City Council unanimously approved a recommendation of the Crosslake Facility Committee to purchase seven acres of land south of the current city hall just north of 14 Lakes Brewery for $170,000 and build a new building there to house the police and administration departments, then remodel the existing city hall building to house the fire department with the total cost of the project not to exceed $4.8 million.

Committee Chair Kevin Sedivy told the council that the committee was unanimous in its decision to make the recommendation after considering a number of options. The committee also recommended that HyTec Construction and Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN) be involved in the project. In a letter to the council he wrote, “the committee met several times and through their expertise and ideas, we believe we have come up with a fiscally responsible plan that meets the needs of the police, fire and administrative departments for years to come.”

Committee members included Doreen Gallaway, Bill Schiltz, Marcia Seibert-Volz, Mic Tchida, Tom Swenson, Dan Heggerston, Mark Wessels, Darrell Schneider, Mark Lindner and Sedivy. Mayor David Nevin and several other council members also attended committee meting as did Police Chief Erik Lee, Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller, City Administrator Mike Lyonais and Public Works Director Ted Strand.

The city closed on the land deal May 14. The council voted to have HyTec Construction provide the architectural and construction administration services for the new building to house the police and administration departments at a cost of $200,000. The council put having these services done for the fire department on “temporary hold” but assured Fire Chief Lohmiller that the hold would be brief.

Lyonais discussed several options for paying for the project. The council elected to place the project on its capital improvement plan and asked Lyonais to prepare a revised plan for its review as well as a timetable for implementation of the plan. Lyonais said the most aggressive timetable would look like this:
• June 10: Hold a public hearing on the capital improvement plan.
• July 8: Authorize sale of 15- year bonds (Contingent on no petition objecting to the project being received.)
• Aug. 12: Award sale of the bonds.

VRBO Regulation

The council spent considerable time debating regulating Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) properties in Crosslake. City Attorney Brad Person opened the discussion saying that the city is prohibited doing so to create a revenue source. Resort owner Tim Berg said there are 224 VRBO’s in Crosslake. He said state inspectors regulate his resort and others but VRBO’s are unregulated. He said VRBO’s are running the mom and pop resorts out of business and that all he is seeking is an even playing field. He pointed to regulation ordinances in Pequot Lakes and Lake Shore as examples of a trend toward regulation that he urged the city to explore.

Environmental Services Specialist Jon Kolstad said that if the city creates a sanitary sewer district, then all property owners with a septic system would be required to have it inspected on a regular basis. During  those inspections, property owners identified as a VRBO’s could be questioned if their septic systems were sufficient to handle the number of bedrooms they advertised as VRBO’s.

Police Chief Erik Lee said “Off the top of my head I can’t think of any (VRBO) that has been an issue.”

Mayor Nevin asked for volunteers to sign up for a committee to study the issue. At the next council meeting, he will name the committee and give it a scope of duties and a timeline to complete its work.

Pedestrian Study

David Reese of WSN told the Council that earlier plans to do a traffic study financed by the city, county and the National Loon Center have been changed as a result of the Loon Center’s parking plan and new proposals for access to a proposed 60-unit apartment building on Highway 3. Instead, the three entities are proposing a pedestrian study be completed to:
• Identify existing and potential parking locations and capacities;
• Identify improved safe corridors for pedestrian movement;
• Identify additional walking opportunities for tourists and residents;
• Identify pedestrian routes to businesses that will stimulate economic development;
• Identify street and highway noparking zones and pedestrian crossing locations and
• Identify the type and location of recommended improvements and costs.

The $18,000 study will be equally funded by the city, county and Loon Center each contributing $6,000 and will be conducted by WSN. Tim Bray, Crow Wing County Engineer, told the council that he would have preferred to have the U.S. Corps of Engineers added as a fourth partner on the project to share the costs but Leah Heggerston of the Loon Center said the Corps was asked to participate but was unable to do so because of budget constraints. The council voted to contribute $6,000 to the project and Bray said he would recommend that the county do the same. Heggerston said the Loon Center would also support the project.

Public Works
John Graupman of Bolton and Menk presented two change orders related to work on the wastewater treatment plant project. The first was for the replacement of an oxidation ditch aerator motor variable speed drive at a cost of $13,451.29 that was offset by an unused computer and construction allowance of $16,645.40 resulting in a decrease of the contract price of $3,194.11.

The second change order was to replace a transfer switch with a time delay switch at a cost of $59,111.54 less the $3,194.11 savings from the first change order.

Welcome Signs
Crosslaker Connectivity Group Chair Pat Netko presented the group’s design idea for three welcome signs to be erected on County Road 3 south of Crosslake, County Road 3 east of town and County Road 16 near West Shore Drive. The city has budgeted $10,000 for signage this year. The cost of the three signs is $5,895. Netko said the signs will be created by Upland Advertising and will require no maintenance. The colors and style of the signs will be used on future signs, flags and banners created around Crosslake, she said. The council approved the design.

Community Center
Parks and Recreation Director T.J. Graumann reported that the current phone system at the Crosslake Community Center only has one working line and that the voicemail system does not work properly. He recommended that $3,350 from his department’s computer and software budget be spent on purchasing six new phones for the center. The council approved the request.

Graumann presented two options to the council for extending a natural gas line to the garden garage at the center. One would have the gas company do the job for $9,000. The other would have an independent contractor do the job for about $3,200 with the city assuming liability for any problems in the future. The council voted to have the gas company extend the line with Nevin voting no.

Graumann said work on the Crosslaker Dog Park is nearing an end and the facility should be open soon.

Other Business

In other business, the council:
• Heard Public Works Director Ted Strand report that Crosslake residents may now dump yard waste at the city’s maintenance facility on Fridays and Saturdays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.;

• Heard a report from Patty Norgaard on Crosslake’s Bird City celebration May 18;

• Approved a donation of $140 from David Potz to the city for baseball uniforms;

• Heard an update report on the Economic Development Authority from EDA President Dean Fitch;

• Approved a $1,250 donation from the PAL Foundation to the Parks and Recreation Department;

• Approved setting up email accounts for council members for city business;

• Approved a $1,000 service agreement with the University of Minnesota to do a sales tax study to determine who is spending money in Crosslake;

• Increased the pay of the Clean Team that cleans city hall and the maintenance facility from $375 a month to $500 a month, the first increase since 2014;

• Approved a policy to reimburse employees traveling on city business for breakfasts ($15), lunches ($15) and dinners ($20);

• Approved a request by Peggy Johnson of Treasured Haven Up North for a group transient merchant permit for several dates this summer to allow arts and crafts vendors to sell merchandise at her business;

• Approved a request from Fire Chief Lohmiller to place a 1994 Chevy Top Kick R1- Rescue 1 vehicle on surplus status to sell and

• Approved a limited land use agreement between the city and William Monroe at 37313 County Road 66.

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