REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY OF ALBERT LEA
Monday, July 10, 2017, 7:00 P.M.
PRESENT: Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr., Councilors Rich Murray, Jason Howland, Reid Olson, Robert Rasmussen, and Al Brooks. Also present were City Manager Chad Adams, City Engineer Steven Jahnke, and City Clerk Shirley Slater-Schulte.
ABSENT: Councilor Larry Baker
Todd Harabedian, 1002 Bridge Avenue, stated concerns and complaints against Jon Ford, Director of the HRA and the HRA Board. He informed the council that he is being terminated from the voucher portion of the Section 8 program. Harabedian commented that he has been a perfect tenant and of good standing. He requested the city, as his landlord, to negotiate a fiscal arrangement, minus the voucher portion of the program.
Joni Cather, 1402 S. Broadway, thanked Building Inspector Wayne Sorensen for visiting the property at 1326 S. Broadway and actively working on getting some work done on the property. She informed the council that the last building permit has expired, and the problem still exists. Cather stated that the grass is still not mowed in the back yard and the property owner has no intention of repairing this property per the building code.
Ken Delano 1406 S. Broadway, stated that it has been six plus years that this property has been in corrupt shape. He explained that the property owner has been given too many extensions and the property needs to be removed.
CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes Of The June 26, 2017 Regular Council Meeting
B. Approve Minutes Of The June 22, 2017 Work Session
C. Approve Revised Minutes Of The June 12, 2017 Special Council Meeting
D. Licenses & Permits (See Attached List)
E. Resolution 17-127-Accepting Donations Presented To The City Of Albert Lea
F. Resolution 17-128-Approving Lawful Gambling Premises Permit – Albert Lea Wrestling Boosters
G. Resolution 17-129-Recording Previously Deferred Special Assessments For City Projects Against Two Parcels Of Which Have Been Combined Into One Lot, PID #34-014-1130
H. Remove Parking Sign On Madison Avenue
MOTION: Move to approve the consent agenda as presented.
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-127-129 included with these minutes)
PETITIONS, REQUESTS, AND COMMUNICATIONS
SOUTHERN MINNESOTA INITIATIVE FOUNDATION UPDATE – ALISSA BLAHA, DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
Blaha provided information and updates on the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. She thanked the City of Albert Lea for their support and partnership in completing projects within this community.
Blaha stated that Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation has been around for 31 years and presented the annual report for the council’s review. She reviewed some of the following activities: Economic Development, Entrepreneurial Economies, Early Childhood Education, Community Vitality, and grants dollars being put back into this region.
Councilor Brooks thanked the Foundation for their support and being a community partner.
MAYO CLINIC HOSPITAL UPDATE
Adams provided an update on discussions and research that staff has been conducting over the past weeks. Adams stated the city has reached out to most major hospitals within 200 miles that might be interested in providing services. He acknowledged that though most hospital officials have stated it would be challenging to move to the community, under the current circumstances, there are unanswered questions that need to be answered from Mayo. He mentioned another health care provider could purchase the facility owned by Mayo, if state approval is secured.
Adams mentioned that the city has reached out to SMART Transit about possibly helping local residents travel to Austin. He discussed having a small user fee, with Mayo possibly undertaking a large portion of the cost to make it more affordable.
Adams said that the city has looked into other communities that have city or county hospitals existing under the city or county umbrella.
Adams stated that the city has reached out to Representative Peggy Bennett’s and Congressman Waltz’s office to keep them informed and to explore other options. Adams discussed city officials possibly meeting with Mayo officials to request the transition be delayed and Mayo is interested in hosting future community forums on the transition. Staff is also seeking more feedback from the general public along with any direction from the Council on options to further pursue or explore more options.
Mayor Rasmussen and Councilor Howland removed themselves from Mayo-related agenda items, due to their employment with the hospital system. Pro Tem Mayor Baker was absent due to a family emergency and the meeting was turned over to Councilor Brooks.
Tony Trow, 522 Park Avenue stated that citizens want to save our hospital and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish this task. City needs to adopt a resolution that the City of Albert Lea wants to keep this hospital.
Don Sorensen, 72823 220th Street, life-long resident, owned a very successful business in Albert Lea, predicted the most skilled jobs at the hospital would leave and this would “cascade and devastate” Albert Lea. Sorensen requested the hospital be returned to local control and that without a hospital the city should not even consider a new fire station.
Jan Mattson, 2316 W, 9th Street, stated that 1500 people have signed a petition to save and support the hospital. Mattson stated that the hospital is very important in the growth of our community.
Dr. Bill Buege, 219 Ridge Road, retired family physician since 1969, stated that though Mayo Clinic is a world-renowned medical provider that is good at treating conditions the hospital is not good at practicing medicine. Buege stated that it is the job of the city to ensure that citizens have a hospital.
Joel Erickson, 917 Lakewood, retired Lutheran pastor, stated this is a great community. He mentioned that family members have received excellent care through Mayo in Albert Lea and Rochester. Erickson stated the city needs to work hard in keeping a hospital in Albert Lea.
Mary Thompson, 1616 Seth Drive, asked the council if they support keeping an acute care hospital in Albert Lea. She stated that the community needs the council to be supportive and requested an action plan.
Margie Kirchner, 2731 Campus Lane, stated that a hospital needs to be kept in Albert Lea.
Paul Overgaard, 1728 Bay Oaks Drive, stated concerns about the future of our community and medicine. He stated that this is a vital issue for our community.
Barbara Callahan, 608 S. Washington, stated concerns regarding the care of patients and the need for a hospital within Albert Lea.
Cynthia Gail, 1520 Ashley Court, expressed her personal experiences with Mayo and the need for a medical facility within our community.
Adams suggested that council direct staff to continue to explore all options as outlined as a high priority.
Councilor Brooks stated that he is in support of a full service hospital in Albert Lea.
Councilor Olson stated the community and city needs to find the best option for Albert Lea.
Councilor Rasmussen stated the council will do everything it can legally and morally to keep the hospital and jobs within Albert Lea.
Councilor Murray stated that it will take the City Council, City Manager Adams and his staff and all community members to support this as a most vital project.
MOTION: I will move that the City Council be dedicated in keeping an acute care hospital in this community and instruct the City Manager and staff to work as diligently as possible to make this a reality.
Motion made by Councilor Murray, seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Olson, Rasmussen, and Brooks. Councilor Howland and Mayor Rasmussen abstained. Pro Tem Mayor Brooks declared the motion passed. Councilor Baker was absent.
FIRE FACILITY SITE OPTION PRESENTATION
Adams presented an overview of the proposed Fire Facility site locations as follows:
St. Thomas and Columbus (behind Harold’s Bar) – This site does not allow for sufficient space and or acreage. This site has been eliminated.
E. Front Street and Newton – This area is large enough but there are two railroads coming through this site and there are concerns regarding the blockage of movement to north and Broadway and response time going west on Front Street due to stopped trains. This site has been eliminated.
East Main Street – This parcel includes dedicated park land next to the channel. This site is large enough but would need some type of controlled intersection for traffic. Also, involves the old Domino’s and Subway sites and would involve acquiring all of the properties in this corridor. This site is a central location and would assist with the redevelopment of other East Main properties, and provides for a good training area across from the railroad tracks. The cons would be a need for soil remediation, smaller site than desired and would have site acquisition costs and issues with access to Main Street.
Blazing Star Landing – This is another site that would be large enough, no site acquisition expense and there would be a reasonable timeline to complete this project. The cons would be infrastructure and grading expense, it is located at the east edge of the desired location, an increase to response time, decreases taxable value potential to fund remaining site development. There is a possibility to create housing on the top of the Fire Facility.
Morin Park – West Main Street. This site is 2.3 acres in size; entrance to the site is off William, exit is onto Euclid with a controlled intersection on Main Street. This would still allow enough space for the park. The pros would be no site acquisition expense, meets the desired site size and fastest timeline to complete project. The cons are a lot of public concerns of utilizing existing park, nearby flooding, this site is at the west edge of desired location and response time, and there would be expense to relocate ball fields.
Adams reviewed the project cost, funding sources, and preliminary and revised projected timeline. He stated that the City has scheduled a Community Open House for Monday, July 31, 2017, from 4 pm to 8 pm at the City Center and requested that the Council direct staff to solicit architectural services for this project.
Paul Overgaard, 1728 Bay Oak Drive, stated that Morin Park is the favorable view and reason being that there is no cost. He stated that there may be no financial cost but this park is in the center of the city, is available to all of the children that live in the center of the city and available to three churches, and all of the children that attend Youth for Christ. Overgaard commented that ‘Youth for Christ” has become one of his most important ministries. He said that there will be no political consequences for the council to vote for Morin Park, there will not be a single voter that will be affected, but there will be a consequence for the children that go to “Youth for Christ”. He stated that there is no current cost but this park will be forever lost to those central city youth, once lost it can never be replaced. These children are powerless to affect the course of political history but they are not without impact on the future of this city.
Greg Gudal, 116 W. Clark Street, Youth for Christ Executive Director, works with approximately 600 youth yearly, 40-80 youth per day, and Morin Park is located about two blocks from the facility so kids are able to walk to the park about three times per week. He stated that Youth for Christ is open from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm each weekday and after school in the fall; they use the ball diamonds and most of the park. He informed Council that most of their staff is not old enough to drive the vans to take the children to different parks. He stated that the park gets used a lot and encouraged the Council to keep Morin Park as this supports the Blue Zones concepts.
Jill Marin, 1311 South 4th Avenue, encouraged the council to use common sense, be equitable and accountable. She stated that this proposal is against the city’s Blue Zones designation and the health initiatives that the city promotes. Marin commented that Morin Park serves the entire community and the large low income neighborhoods. She questioned why other city parks are given beautiful signage, bathrooms, enclosure of portable bathrooms and Morin Park receives none of these items. Marin thanked the Albert Lea Tribune for reporting on council workshops as this was the only source of information to the public that the city was considering Morin Park as an option and this forced the community to take on awareness through social media and signage. Marin stated that the council is elected by and must be accountable to this community and requested that Morin Park be eliminated as a site for the future Fire Station.
George Marin, 1311 South 4th Avenue, stated that losing Morin Park would be a travesty for Albert Lea as it has been a dedicated parkland and gathering space for 137 years. Marin commented that taking Morin Park would take away recreation opportunities from adults and low-income children and that it seems to be all about money and serving fiscal numbers and reports, but not people and the community. Marin informed the council that he had conducted door to door visits and did not encounter one person who supported having the fire station near their front yard. Marin stated that this proposal is against the city’s designation as a Blue Zones Community and the health initiatives that the city promotes. Marin informed the council that this violates the core values and master plan of the Parks and Recreation Department listed on the city website, one of them being that the city will ensure that the citizens of Albert Lea are heard by the use of program and facility evaluations, community wide surveys, emails, etc. Marin stated that they launched the “Save Morin Park” website and in less than 24 hours received over 200 signatures and today it is over 300 and almost 3,000 views, and the community is passionate about saving Morin Park.
Tony Trow, 522 Park Avenue, stated that Morin Park was a lake at one time and still continues to flood.
Don Sorensen, 72823 220th Street, stated that he remembers playing at Morin Park 73 years ago. He stated that with the possible closure of the hospital, why would the city consider building a new fire station and who will pay for this? Sorensen recommended that the city will need to live within the budget until we know what is going to happen with Mayo.
Samantha Lien, 334 W. William Street, stated that she lives directly across from Morin Park and appreciates everyday how much the park is used. Lien commented that many use this green space and she is in favor of saving Morin Park.
Roger Swanson, 524 Meadow Lane, stated that the city needs to focus on the hospital issue and place the building of the fire station on hold. He had questions regarding plans for the current fire station and Township Fire Station, also had questions on the proposed cost of the fire station and how other cities are building for a lot less.
Barbara Callahan, 608 S. Washington, stated that Morin Park needs to be saved for the children in this community.
Steven Sevdy, 402 E. 3rd Street, stated that Morin Park is located in a low income area and the children in this area need this park. He stated that it was a sad day when the tennis courts were removed as the courts were the best in the city.
Alice Hanson, 612 E. Park Avenue, stated that she grew up playing in this park and children play there all of the time. She commented that it is important to keep some of the city heritage. Hanson made comments about the proposed development for “Blazing Star” and city plans only non-tax property development, city must require tax paying businesses and developers.
Dottie Honsey, 415 4th Street E., stated that Morin Park is part of the history of Albert Lea and should remain a park. She explained that she worked for DHS, and many times child protection staff would watch parents and children playing and interacting with their children at Morin Park.
Dan Donovan, 1507 Oakwood Drive, complimented the city for the many good things that have been completed in the city, but with the change of losing the biggest employer, suggested to put the fire station on hold, slow down and stop the spending.
MOTION: I will move to schedule a “Community Open House”, regarding the new fire station for Monday, July 31, 2017 from 4-8 p.m., and direct staff to solicit architectural services for two sites for the proposed Fire Station; East Main and Blazing Star Landing and to eliminate Morin Park.
Motion made by Councilor Howland, seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks, and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed. Councilor Baker was absent.
Councilor Olson thanked everyone for their comments and support and is in favor of saving Morin Park
Councilor Rasmussen stated that his family uses all of the parks and supports saving Morin Park.
Council Brooks stated that he is in support of the Fire Department and facility but agrees with the elimination of Morin Park.
Councilor Murray explained that after listening to the public, maybe the city needs to slow down the fire department proposed building, and if needed, the city may use some of the reserves to help with the hospital proposal.
Mayor Rasmussen stated that it is about opportunities and Morin Park was a viable option for the Fire Hall but after all of the discussion and concerns it may not be the best option. Mayor Rasmussen thanked everyone for sharing their thoughts and opinions.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS
First Ward, Councilor Murray reported:
- Ward Items – None
- Committee Update – ALEDA meeting was postponed due to the holiday. Also, received telephone calls regarding Morin Park, the use of Blazing Star Landing and Mayo Hospital.
Second Ward, Councilor Baker – ABSENT
Third Ward, Councilor Howland reported:
- Ward Items – Referred items to the City Manager
- Committee – Parks and Recreation meeting is scheduled for next week. Howland is looking forward to the “Open Forum” scheduled for the Fire Station.
Fourth Ward, Councilor Olson reported:
- Ward Items – None
- Committee Update – Received telephone calls on Mayo and Morin Park.
Fifth Ward, Councilor Rasmussen reported:
- Ward Items – Referred item to the City Manager
- Committee Update – None.
Sixth Ward, Councilor Brooks reported:
- Ward Items – Received a couple of nuisance complaints and they are being taken care of by staff.
- Committee Update – Received telephone calls regarding Mayo and Fire Station
Mayor Rasmussen: announced the following upcoming events:
- ‘Comic Convention’ being held at the City Arena
- Shine-Fest Tractor Ride
- Wind Down Wednesday
CITY MANAGER REPORT – None
RESOLUTION 17-130 APPROVING CONTRACT WITH COUNCILMEMBER BROOKS
Adams explained that the attached resolution directs the Mayor and City Clerk to make payment in the amount of $374.00 on behalf of the City for a claim from Brooks Safety Equipment and to issue payment for filing the affidavit of official interest by the interested official, Councilor Brooks.
Motion made by Councilor Howland, seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Brooks abstained. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed. Councilor Baker was absent.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-130 included with these minutes)
RESOLUTION 17- 131 APPROVING CLAIMS
Adams displayed claims from the previous Council meeting in addition to the current claims. He explained each claim over $25,000.
Adams explained that the attached resolution directs the Mayor and City Clerk to issue the payment of claims as presented in the Detail of Claims report.
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, to approve payment of claims as presented for checks #64482 though # 64633 in the amount of $1,313,183.38, seconded by Councilor Howland. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed. Councilor Baker was absent
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-131 Included with these minutes)
ADJOURNMENT– 9:20 PM
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, seconded by Councilor Murray, that there being no further business, the Council meeting adjourn until the next regular meeting of the Albert Lea City Council at 7:00 p.m., on Monday, July 24, 2017. On roll call vote, all councilors voted in favor of said motion. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed and the meeting adjourned. Councilor Baker was absent.
Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr.