High bidder considers reneging dump ground bid, City Clerk reports

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017 — Members of the Tower City Council met on Tuesday of this week, instead of Monday, to conduct the rescheduled regular monthly meeting of the city. At its last meeting, July 31, the council accepted a high bid of $36,000 for the old dump ground property. Terry L. Hildreth and Carol B. St. John, nearby neighbors to the parcel, made that successful bid and with it noted that they were ready to close immediately. City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith this week reported that she received a telephone call from St. John this past Monday inquiring if she could withdraw her offer. “She is thinking about backing out of the sale, but does not want to be known as someone who goes back on her word,” Keith told the council.

The sale of the dump ground parcel has proved controversial since Dave Rose requested that the city sell him this land to add to his own property along the East Two River and include it as part of his conditional use permit application seeking to develop a new campground on the site. Rose has stated that he wanted the land to serve as a buffer to the Mill Point neighborhood.

Keith’s report of her conversation left Mayor Josh Carlson and the city council questioning the best way to proceed if the approved sale is not accomplished as anticipated. In that event Keith recommended that the city council accept the next highest bid because the city had already opened all the bids in July. Keith said she had verified that this was the best course of action with counsel. Geoffrey Griffin submitted the second highest bid of $32,500 and Rose was the low bidder at $30,509 for the dump ground.

The city carefully reviewed its options and ultimately determined that it would give St. John until 5:00 p.m. Monday, August 28 to formalize her intentions regarding the sale so it could proceed with selling the land at its next meeting later that evening. The vote on this plan of action was 4-1, with Alderman Lance Dougherty providing the dissenting vote.

In making the Tower Ambulance Service monthly report Ambulance Supervisor Steve Altenburg outlined the service’s need for additional space and asked for direction from the city council. On the 4th of July, 2014, the city lost its supplemental storage building, adjacent to the fire and ambulance hall due to fire, Altenburg reminded the council. This has created hardship for the fire department and ambulance service leaving each department scrambling for storage space. The ambulance service also needs to provide on shift housing for its new on call ambulance employees, according to Altenburg.

“Do we look at putting up a garage and small house or look at a 48 foot by 100 foot building, with an apartment?” Altenburg asked. He suggested that the city consider a temporary solution which could later be sold should the city be able to build a completely new emergency services building like it was working on in a joint Tower-Breitung Township project over the past two or three years. Altenburg said that he identified four city owned lots in what is know as the Tower Forestry as a potential site for the additional emergency services facilities. Alderman Kevin Fitton asked if the city should consider building an airport hangar, with an apartment, as a temporary solution, and position itself to be able to sell the hangar in the future. However, it was determined that there were not any undeveloped lots left at the airport and the city’s policy was to not allow habitation at the airport.

Fitton then suggested that the city see if Breitung Township could provide space for the ambulance service in the MINOS building on the township government complex. “Breitung already knows what it’s going to do with that building,” Altenburg said.

“I don’t think that (the Forestry site) is a terrible idea,” Carlson said. “I want to meet with SEH, (city engineers, Short Elliot Hendrickson), up front to see if that is the best way to go,” Carlson said.

Altenburg reported that the ambulance service conducted a total of 221 runs, year-to-date, and that out of 100 potential opportunities for medical transfer business the ambulance service was able to respond to 37 of those calls in July. The service also successfully responded to 14 back-to-back calls. In making his fire department report Altenburg told the city council that the department responded to five calls for service in July. Mayor Carlson gave high praise to the fire department noting that there “was no less than seven members of the department responding to each call. This is a good percentage since there are only 18 or 19 members on the roster and some of those are on family leave.”

In other action, the Tower City Council:

• Gave its unanimous approval to the First Reading of Ordinance No. 82K. This ordinance will clarify the conditions which a land owner must meet in applying for building permits. It is expected that the Second Reading will be accomplished at the city’s August 28 meeting before it can be implemented by the city.

• Unanimously approved an agreement between the city and Sentencing to Serve to accomplish tree brushing and grooming on city owned land including the Howard Wagoner Ski Trails

• Unanimously approved having SEH prepare bid advertisements for the Hoodoo Point Campground infrastructure improvements and campsite expansion

• Unanimously approved accepting a 50/50 Rural Fire Grant totaling $3,500. The city’s match will be $3,652. The money will be used to offset the costs of radios and pagers and fire suppressing foam

• Accepted monthly reports from city engineers, SEH, Inc.; the Breitung Police Department; the Emergency Management Director and the Tower Area Economic Development Authority

• Unanimously approved the minutes of the July 31, 2017 meeting of the city council.