City considers leasing land for Lamppa Manufacturing expansion

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 — With new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards in hand for its new Vapor Fire Model 100 wood stove Lamppa Manufacturing, a long-time small manufacturing business in Tower, hopes soon to expand locally. The stove manufacturer is the only company in the country which has met all EPA standards for the year 2020 and beyond and the company would like to build a new manufacturing facility in the Tower business park located just south of town on Highway 135. Lamppa Manufacturing representatives recently met with Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Mark  Phillips seeking funding to build the new facility. They learned that the City of Tower could apply for a non-recourse loan to build the facility and Lamppa Manufacturing could make payments, over time, to amortize the costs of its construction.

At its regular meeting, Monday, September 11, the Tower City Council discussed leasing land in the city’s business park to Lamppa Manufacturing and seeking a IRRRB non-recourse loan to enable it to build suitable accommodations for Lamppa Manufacturing. Although many of the details still need to be developed, including site determination, estimated costs of construction and making funding application to the IRRRB the city council unanimously passed a motion to support Lamppa Manufacturing in its endeavor to expand.

The city council also discussed creating a new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to help potential new owners of the Standing Bear Marina to update and expand the business there. The city previously used TIF financing to build the Tartan Transportation building which was converted into the Vermilion Country (charter) School. Because creating TIF districts can be complex the city council instructed City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith to contact Nick Skarich, Dougherty and Company, in Minneapolis, to explore the idea of creating a new TIF district to include the marina and to close out the existing TIF district which has served its purpose and to report back to the council at its next meeting.

Mayor Josh Carlson reported that he had been contacted by three residents of Echo Point, located across Pike Bay from the Tower Municipal Airport, and heard their complaints about noise generated by float planes  at the airport seaplane base. Although Echo Point residents asked to be on the meeting agenda no one showed up to the meeting. Airport manager John Burgess explained that seaplane traffic has increased with the implementation of new business located at the airport, however he has been working with that business to mitigate noise through changing landing and take-off patterns.

“Tower has one of the top municipal airports in the area. Although there is demand for additional hangars the city does not have any space for them. That’s the price you pay for development—you will see some changes,” Mayor Carlson said. Carlson reported that he empathized with Echo Point residents and appreciated Burgess’ efforts to instruct pilots on utilizing landing patterns which keeps the noise affecting neighbors to a minimum.

The city received the final Lake Vermilion Trail joint powers agreement and unanimously voted to accept it and joint the joint powers board. Each member community will contribute one dollar, per capita, annually to fund the board. Once the board is established it will seek outside funding to build the proposed trail, from Head-of-Lakes, at the western end of Lake Vermilion, to cook, and east to Tower and Breitung Township. It is expected that the multi-million dollar trail project will take 20 years to complete.

In other action, the Tower city council:

• Counter offered $23,450 to the Walker, Giroux and Hahne, LLC offer of $23,900 to conduct the city’s 2017 audit

• Set the preliminary 2018 city levy increase at 10 percent. The council noted that it could reduce that increase onece budgeting is completed, however one it establishes the ten percent rate it can not be increased

• Approved adding Brian Schanche to the Department of the Interior, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit which allows airport officials to eliminate migratory birds which present safety hazards to airplane flight

• Approved Resolution 2017-010 recognizing October 10 as the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

• Learned, from Ron Abrahamson, that is he is ready to sell his long-held Tower Main Street property, lots 9, 10 and 11, Block 27, at the Northwest corner of Pine and Main streets. At its last meeting, the city council established a committee to consider potential locations for the expansion of the ambulance service and Mayor Carlson told Abrahamson that he would refer his offer to that committee for its consideration. “We would by happy to take a look at your building, Ron,” Carlson said.