City receives updates on proposed projects

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 —Three members of the Tower City Council met on Monday evening, September 25, and accomplished little more than a review of some of the projects listed on its agenda. Alderman Brooke Anderson, Alderman Kevin Fitton and Mayor Josh Carlson were in attendance at this meeting.

City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith reported that, since the last meeting on September 11, Walker, Giroux and Hahne, LLC, has accepted the city’s counter offer of $23,450 to complete the 2017 audit of the city’s financial records.

In anticipation of expanding the Hoodoo Point Campground the city reviewed the construction bids submitted to complete the project. Low Impact Excavators, Ely, bid $472,449.16 to complete the infrastructure work and construct the campsites and Wagner Construction, International Falls, submitted a bid of $603,000. However, Keith reported that she discovered a math error of approximately $25,000 more in the proposed line item costs of the Low Impact Excavators bid and the total cost stated in the bid was wrong. According to Keith, when she contacted them they said they could not honor the bid total submitted, but would honor the higher number. It was reported that the city’s attorney recommended republishing a new call for bids. The city council agreed and unanimously approved calling for new bids with Alderman Fitton making the motion to “Reject and repost a new call for bids.” Mayor Carlson said that this would cause delays for the project. The new call for bids will be published over the next three weeks and the city will consider any new bids received at its late October meeting.

The snafu with the low bid eliminated the need for the city to act on the next agenda item, establishing the issuance of bonds to pay for the campground project. However, Keith asked if she could order the grinder pump necessary for the infrastructure, due to the six-week lead time required to obtain the equipment, and still include it in the total amount in the revenue bond. Nick Skarich, Dougherty and Company, Minneapolis, affirmed that the city could include a reimbursement resolution as a part of the revenue bond it was seeking and it was determined that the city would proceed with ordering the grinder pump.

Concluding its business on Hoodoo Point Campground the city council unanimously approved several 2018 camping rate increases for the campground.

Although there has been no transfer of the city’s former marina property, currently Standing Bear Marina, LLC, the city thinks a sale and transfer of title might occur in October. No formal application for help with a funding package has been received by the city, however, the city invited Nick Skarich to explain Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to the city council. A TIF is a public financing tool utilized by municipalities to assist private and public development and recapture the public money over time. Skarich provided the city council with a detailed and lengthy explanation of several options which the city could consider should a need and desire arise where the city wants to establish a TIF district for the marina property, or any other development or redevelopment area of the city.

Linda Haugen and Joan Broten, members of the city’s Main Street committee, reported to the city council on its recent activities. They made a request to paint the interior of the civic center noting that grant money has already been obtained to complete the project. “I would like the local painter to get a shot,” Mayor Carlson said, and added that he already contacted a local painter about providing a quote. The request was tabled until the city’s next meeting in October. The Main Street committee also reviewed its concept plans for establishing a Welcome Center at the intersection of Highway 169 and Poirier Road, adjacent to the civic center. Haugen also reported that they were seeking to have the overhead doors on the firehall and ambulance garage repainted with white paint.

Orlyn Kringstad made a request to have the city install a street light near the Marjo Motel property which he manages through Tower Harbor Shores LLC. “When the entrance to the motel was moved in 2011, during the Highway 169 bridge reconstruction, lighting was greatly reduced. During dark or rainy nights, the entrance is nearly invisible,” Kringstad wrote the city council. The city would need to purchase and install a street light and pay for any Minnesota Power electricity charges, Clerk Keith told the city council. The city council did not take any formal action but will consult with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to determine what would be required for the city to place a street light at the highway entrance to the Marjo Motel.

The city council gave its unanimous approval to transferring the liquor license held by Gary Mellesmoen Sr., to Gary Mellesmoen Jr., who will now be operating the Benchwarmers Grille as River Bench Incorporated.

The city council discussed a need to determine an engineering cost budget to complete work which might become necessary in developing a new manufacturing facility for Lamppa Manufacutring at a site in Tower’s business park. Without detailed information before the city council, Mayor Carlson said, “We would rather not write a blank check.” It can be assumed that the council considered the matter tabled although no formal action was undertaken.

Concluding its meeting, the city council unanimously approved a resolution stating that the Mayor, representing the city council, had full authorization to sell city land earlier in 2017. The resolution was made to assist the new owner in demonstrating clear title and obtaining title insurance.