By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Moose Lake awarded additional funding for new trail


March 21, 2019

The City of Moose Lake was awarded a $300,000 grant from Safe Routes to School, it was announced at the meeting of the Moose Lake City Council on Wednesday, March 13.

That amount will be added to the $600,000 in funding that was granted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation earlier, said City Administrator Tim Peterson. Another grant application will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other funding sources for the paved trail from the bridge over the Moose Horn River along Highway 73 to the roundabout and to the school. The project is slated to be completed in 2021.

Peterson also informed the council that Phase II of the well replacement project is underway.

“A new well house will be designed or the existing well house will be rehabilitated,” he said.

The council passed a motion to approve $39,800 for engineering costs.

Peterson announced that Kevin Coil, the new manager of the liquor store, had resigned after one day.

The Liquor Committee had met earlier that day and came back with a recommendation that Elaine Hennager, a long-time employee, be hired as manager. The council approved the recommendation.

Peterson then told the council that one person needed to be hired for a full-time position. The position will be posted for seven days internally.

There was considerable discussion about frozen water lines. Craig and Andrea Stevens met with the council to discuss a recurring problem with a frozen water line to their property in Southtown.

Craig Stevens said that his family has lived in the home since 1996 and frozen water lines have been a recurrent problem several times in those years.

Phil Entner, the Public Works Supervisor for the city, explained that the water line is required to be buried seven or eight feet down but the curb stop is only five feet below the surface of the ground.

Peterson said that there are 60 homes in the city with a similar problem. It would cost $6,000 to replace the line from the water main to the curb stop for all of the homes, and total $360,000.

Peterson explained that the Capital Improvement Plan is a five-year plan that addresses all of the projects, including water, sewer and other services. Those water services will be upgraded as they come up among the other projects in the plan.

Moose Lake School Superintendent Robert Indihar presented the plan and the costs to the council about the upcoming referendum on May 14 about building another parking lot, building a playground for the early childhood program and finishing the athletic complex, including a cross country trail, by the new school.

“Those will all be in Question 1 on the ballot,” said Indihar. “The cost of that project is $3.9 million for 18 years. Question 2 will have the fourplex of fields east of the school and would be more for the community. If you look at the numbers, this is the best way to go.”

Indihar said that the levy on a $100,000 property for both questions would be $21 a year, compared to $26 a year in abatement bonds to just build a parking lot.

The school district still qualifies for 70 percent off, as it did for the new school.

Mayor Ted Shaw replied that, with the fourplex of athletic fields east of the school, there could be space for both a softball and baseball field and games could be played at the same time. Those games are alternated at the present time, he added.

Indihar also pointed out that the fourplex of fields would be valuable when property is sold on the school land to new homeowners. The Small Area Land Plan sets aside space for multi-family and single-family homes south of Kwik Trip.

“The value of that land is greater with the development of those fields and trails,” said Indihar. “I believe that this is smart money. Over half of the project would be paid by the state. Most schools don’t get that. We can develop a field for the city at a lot less cost than normal.”

Jon Lund, the city’s representative on the Mercy Hospital Board, presented Mercy’s annual report to the council.

Peterson asked Lund to talk to the board and the new CEO, Mike Youso, who begins his duties at Mercy on April 2, to take a look at the levy that the hospital has imposed.

He also asked Lund to bring up the PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) program. He said that the city provides many services to the hospital, such as use of the police department, plowing, and other services.

Peterson said that he wanted to meet with Youso. Lund replied that he would look into a time when he could set up a meeting.

In response to a letter from Bill Carlson, who was involved when the public access TV was set up many years ago, Mayor Shaw explained that a certain amount of funds from Mediacom, who provides cable TV services in the community, were to be set aside to upgrade the public access stations, Channel 7 and 18.

Some of those funds have been used for other technology, he said, such as the city’s security cameras and telephone communications.

“That halted the first project,” he said. “Channel 7 is not as clear as it had been. There were no funds to upgrade the equipment. The funds had to come from the General Fund.”

Shaw added that he wasn’t finger pointing; he just wanted to start from this point and look to the future. The issue will be brought back for discussion by the council in April.

The next meeting of the council was set for Wednesday, April 10, a 4 p.m.


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