BGC wants to gift parking lot to city of Little Falls

Council has to decide whether to accept the gift

The Boys and Girls Club (BGC) has purchased the former Red Owl store building in west Little Falls and is currently renovating the building. The goal is for the doors to open in June 2014.

Monday, Bernie Jeub, president of the Little Falls Advisory Board, approached the Little Falls City Council, about the site’s parking lot. Knowing the city could not donate to the club, Jeub proposed gifting the parking lot on the north side of the property along Broadway to the city.

“It’s a way the city may participate in the Boys and Girls Club,” said Jeub. In exchange, he said, the BGC Board would like to see the lot resurfaced and the city continue ongoing maintenance and snow removal.

Under city ownership, the lot could be used for public parking, since public parking in west Little Falls is limited, said Jeub.

The BGC would like the right of first refusal to buy back the lot, at a cost equal to the amount the city put into it, Jeub said.

The BGC would also like to retain a small part of the lot to use for signage.

Council Member Greg Zylka said first, the Council needed to know the cost to pave the lot, as well as the cost to maintain it.

Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder asked about the city’s liability, since as a public parking lot, people would be using it near the BGC, where kids would be playing.

“I’d hate to see the city have to patrol it more often because of liability,” he said.

Jeub explained that the youths who use the BGC have a lot of space on the west side of the property, where kids are supervised and the area will be fenced in. He didn’t feel there would be a problem, noting current neighbors to the BGC across from the Morrison County Government Center have had no issues with kids leaving the BGC property.

“The parking lot is atrocious,” said Zylka. While he’d love to see more activity on the west side, Zylka said the city’s budget wasn’t “oozing dollars.”

Council Member Frank Gosiak wondered if money from a Safe Routes to School grant could be used for such work, suggesting staff look into it.

Council Member Loren Boyum wondered whether a demonstrated need for public parking was there. “Who else will use it, besides the Boys and Girls Club?” he said.

Jeub pointed out several businesses in the area used it for parking, and many attending the Pine Grove Zoo’s Zoo Boo used the area for parking as well.

Boyum asked if, in accepting the gift, the city would be setting a precedent for others who wanted to do the same.

The Council chose to put the item on a future agenda and asked that Public Works Director Jerry Lochner put together costs for fixing and maintaining the lot.

Little Falls Council Briefs

 

In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:

• Approved an additional handicapped parking spot near Falls Court 6-1. Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem was absent and Council Member Loren Boyum voted no, because he felt a moveable sign would better serve the area, especially for weekend parking;

• Approved 7-0 to include $10,000 in the city’s budget, in the event the city receives a Region 5 matching grant to hire someone to plan a route through the city of Little Falls for the Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail. City Administrator Dan Vogt said that while planning is under way from the Soo Line to the city, plans need to be made for how the trail will go through the city, accommodating the river and railroad tracks. Vogt said there is no guarantee the city will be awarded the grant, but the $10,000 would be in reserve if it did;

• Heard Public Works Director Jerry Lochner propose the city reshuffle locations of several of the new street lights to be installed and adding six additional lights ($3,000 – $4,000 each) so that all of downtown would have the same lights. He said the city should purchase a few extra poles for the future. The old lights will not be reused as they continue to deteriorate. One near Opatz Electric on the west side fell over recently, Lochner said;

• Approved the sale of property on Lots 4, 4, and 5, Block 3, Broadway Addition, to Brian and Marcia Schlattman, for $11,200;

• Were reminded of a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m., in Council Chambers at City Hall, regarding the conditional use permit request by Scott and Raquel Lundberg, owners of the Waller House, to allow for the operation of a bed and breakfast at the home;

• Approved the $5,230 bid (plus materials) from Northland Drilling Inc., Randall, to seal two abandoned wells. The other quotes were Major Drilling Environmental LLC, Little Falls – $7,480 and Traut Companies, Waite Park – $12,715;

• Decided to keep utility drop boxes in place, after hearing a request from Minnesota Power that drop boxes not be required by the city through its franchise agreement; and

• Approved filling a position that has been vacant for several years, that of a water distribution/engineering technician. The position will be part of the AFSCME bargaining unit, at pay grade 4, with an annual salary range of $32,618 – $43,897. The position will be posted and if no qualified city employee applies, the position will be advertised.

The Council will meet for a budget work session Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. Its next regular meeting is Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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