By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
It was an item on the consent agenda — the installation of a courtesy bench near City Hall. The bench installation and placement is part of the city’s lawsuit settlement with Robin Hensel.
Normally, the Council doesn’t vote on items on the consent agenda, but passes the consent agenda in its entirety.
The request to place the bench came from Jeff Waldvogel, owner of JMR2 Investments, the company the city contracts with to install and maintain the benches.
However, Council Member Frank Gosiak had a few questions he wanted the city attorney to review and asked to table the decision.
Gosiak said he didn’t see it stipulated anywhere that the city had to allow JMR2 to put up the bench.
“I realize Ms. Hensel has the right to have the bench, but not that it had to go through JMR2,” he said.
City Administrator Dan Vogt explained JMR2 has the courtesy bench franchise in the city. During the April 7 meeting, the motion was made giving Hensel the right to rent a bench on city property near City Hall.
He said the expectation is that the city would go through the bench contractor. “We didn’t discuss there would be other means to put up a bench,” he said. “It’s up to you.”
Council President Don Klinker said JMR2 had the franchise with the city and would put up the same type of bench as he would for anyone else. If Hensel doesn’t pay the fee, someone else can rent the bench, Klinker said.
Gosiak said he realized the bench would be placed near City Hall “sooner or later” but wanted to talk with the city attorney “to see that things are taken care of ahead of time.”
Gosiak also asked about what happened when a bench was damaged, as a member of the Council brought up that concern at a previous meeting.
Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder had voiced concerns of vandalism at a previous meeting.
Once Waldvogel gets Council approval to place a bench, he collects fees for the advertising placed on the benches. He is also responsible for maintenance and repair of the benches.
“The company replaces benches that are damaged,” said Waldvogel. “The last one we had cleaned up in 24 hours.”
While he doesn’t go around the city each week to look at the benches, he said he would be out if someone called him saying a bench needed repair.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go bench to bench to look at them,” he said, noting he had made a lot of upgrades since taking the franchise over.
“I would be surprised if we could allow anybody else to put up a bench if we have a contract,” said Council Member Greg Zylka. “A contract gives him exclusivity. It wouldn’t make much sense if we could put benches up.”
Council Member Loren Boyum made the motion to table a decision until Gosiak had his questions answered by the city attorney.
“So, what’s the point?” asked Council Member Jeremy Hanfler.
No discussion is allowed once a motion has been made to table an item; the Council voted 6-2 to table the approval.
Hanfler and Klinker were not in favor of tabling the decision.