City of Tower sets $30 K price tag for former dump ground site

MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2017 — St. Louis County values Tower’s old dump ground property, located near the East Two River close to where the river meets Lake Vermilion, at $3,900. Former Mayor Steve Abrahamson has a different opinion and submitted an appraisal to the City of Tower claiming that the land’s true value is $30,000. The city took his word on this appraised value and decided, at its regular Monday, June 12 meeting, that it would offer the land for sale, by bid, starting at $30,000, following 30 days notice to the public.

Over the past year Dave Rose has been trying to build a campground on his own adjacent land and requested the city sell him the old dump site earlier this spring. He has said that he wants to utilize the old dump parcel as undeveloped green space serving as a buffer between his desired campground and his high-tax district neighbors at Mill Point Plat. Rose requested that the city sell him the land and offered to pay more than the assessed value which St. Louis County set for the property. The city then decided to hire the former Mayor to conduct the appraisal it reviewed Monday night before it decided it would take bids on the property. Mill Point Plat residents, lobbied the city against the land sale and questioned the value of the property. These residents, represented by Joan Broten, raised concerns that potential contaminants from the old dump might still be found on the land following the mediation which was completed many years ago. Abrahamson was asked if he had used other, mitigated, dump site properties for his comparable sales when determining the value of this parcel. He said that he did not, but emphasized that the paperwork on the mitigation performed on Tower’s behalf was available at city hall for anyone to review.

Mill Point residents also asked the city if the old dump parcel was landlocked. Mayor Carlson said that it was not and that the city had an easement to the property. The News has been unable to verify any recorded easement in spite of Carlson’s assurances, and our request for a copy of Abrahamson’s appraisal, from the city, has gone unanswered as of press deadline. The closest access to Hoodoo Point Road would be North across Rose’s property. *

“Speaking on behalf of Mill Point residents, we would appreciate it if the city would leave this land as a buffer zone for our neighborhood,” Broten told the city council. Mayor Carlson was not inclined to leave the property in the city’s portfolio. “I’m in favor of putting it back on the tax rolls. At the end of the day we need to do what is best for everyone,” Carlson said as he moved to seek bids on the property with the minimum acceptable bid being $30,000. The Mayor’s motion was passed unanimously by the city council and it is expected that the property will be advertised forthwith.

Since autumn the city has been planning on developing new campsites at Hoodoo Point Campground and now unanimously approved pursuing a $274,000 project to build the new campsites. It is expected that the city will bond for the improvements and repay the bonds from the anticipated additional revenue.

Jason Chopp, a project manager with Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc., presented the city council with two possible options. The first option, which would allow the construction of the desired full-service campsites and an upgrade of the existing sewer infrastructure and a new lift station and force main is expected to cost $373,000. The second option, including the construction of the campsites without sewer connections and would abandon all existing sewers would only cost $274,000. This option would create a need for additional labor and generate a need for additional equipment to manually pump out each seasonal recreational vehicle camper on a regular basis.

Alderman Lance Dougherty said that he would like to take some time to think about the city’s options. Chopp cautioned the city council against taking any more time. He said the city wanted to time the opening of bids for September as that was the best time to garner low bids giving the construction industry’s business cycles. It was decided that the best option would be for the city to take action now, during June, to meet a September goal for bidding.

Alderman Kevin Fitton said that over 15 years, anticipating an increase in annual revenue of $20,000, the city would realize $300 thousand from the project. He also said that the city should consider the first, and more expensive option, saying that they might receive low bids and be able to get everything on the city’s wish list. Mayor Carlson disagreed. He said that the city needed to take the cheaper option, and then, if the city indeed realized savings because of low bids it could pursue the other projects. The Mayor moved to go forward with the proposed $274.000 project and the city council unanimously supported him.

The city council unanimously accepted the proposal by Dougherty & Company LLC to serve as an underwriter and placement agent for infrastructure improvement bonds needed to implement the proposed harbor condominium project.

Marshal Helmberger appeared before the city council seeking its approval on Tower Economic Development Association’s (TEDA) request to again revise the economic development loan guidelines. Throughout the spring TEDA has been continually revising the guidelines to adapt to the change desires of Tower Vision 2025. One of the changes TEDA is now seeking is to eliminate language disallowing funding the purchase of real estate or existing businesses with the borrowed money. “We decided that we really can’t think of a reason to not allow this,” Helmberger said. He was only telling the city council part of the story, however. TEDA’s plan has been to loan $125,000 to Orlyn Kringstad to complete architectural drawings and for promotion materials to advance his proposed harbor condominium project. Recent conversations at TEDA meetings have suggested that it now hopes to finance a private sector purchase of the shuttered Iron Ore Bar by utilizing money borrowed from the city.

The city accepted Como Oil and Propane’s offer to match the best written proposal received in its search for a price on propane for the 2017-2018 heating season. Ferrell Gas quoted the city $1.09 & 9/10. Lakes Gas Company provided the lowest quote at $1.04 & 9/10.

In other action, the Tower City Council:

• Updated the Tower Area Ambulance Service billing rate sheet

• Approved the minutes of its previous city council meeting

• Acknowledged correspondence from Randy Semo who wrote seeking permission to block off one block of Poplar Street, South of Main Street, from Monday July 3, until mid afternoon, July 5, for the Fourth of July activities

• Acknowledged correspondence from Dave Erickson seeking permission to utilize the city garage and surrounding area for an entertainment area, and out-side sales point for D’Erick’s Tower Liquors

• Approved a hangar lease transfer from Leon W. and Irene Van Deusen, III to Brian and Lori Schance

• Approved a temporary liquor license for Tower Fire Department Relief Association during the Fourth of July celebration

• Approved all the requested liquor and cigarette licenses for businesses  marketing these products in the city

• Hired Adam Burgess for summer employment with the city, subject to the mandatory background check

THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017 — * UPDATE: The Tower City Clerk-Treasurer, Linda Keith provided us with a copy of the appriaisal on the old Tower dump ground parel, 080-0019-00040, on Thursday morning. Our original email was lost in the interwebs and Ms. Keith responded to our request as soon as she became aware of it. The city has also documented its easement to parcel 080-0019-0040. has verified the easement with the St.Louis County Recorders Office. The easement documents can be retrieved from Deed Book 1037, pg. 694.