Expensive city projects getting pushed out
By Clay Schuldt
A recommendation to extend the completion deadline of the 2012 electric utility project was approved at the Oct. 8 Caledonia City Council meeting. This will be the second extension granted to the electrical contractor, Karian Peterson Power Line Contracting.
The original completion date was Sept. 1, but was extended to Oct. 19. Karian Peterson was unable to complete the work on Grant Street due to the delay in the sewer pipe project. In addition, the contractor is unable to remove electrical poles with Mediacom cables still attached. It was mentioned at the previous city council meeting that Mediacom has been slow to comply with request to remove cables from city electrical poles.
The council agreed to extend the deadline to Nov. 2.
On a related subject, the council agreed to pass a resolution to terminate a pole agreement between Caledonia and Mediacom cable incorporated. This notice is an attempt to force the cable company to move their equipment or renegotiate the contract.
Water meter change out
At the Oct. 8 Caledonia City Council meeting the council discussed several issues dealing with the installation of new water meters.
Early this fall the City of Caledonia began replacing water meters throughout town with new meters that will allow water consumption to be monitored through radio signals. As of Oct. 8 most of the meters have been changed out; however, a few the meters have not been installed due to non-compliance.
The team switching out the meters has been unable to gain access to around 20 to 30 meters as the residents owning the meters are refusing access or are simply not at home.
As there is a deadline for the installation process, the council discussed a way to encourage these outlying residents to complete the installation process. The city will first issue a letter to the residents to explain the situation, including a number to call to set up an appointment for the change.
If new meter installation has not been performed by Oct. 24, the city will shut off water to the residence and assess any fees on the property’s tax roll.
In a related matter, a change order was approved from Dakota Supply Group for additional equipment for the installation project. The increase is $3,302.
A proposal from Bill and Clare Klug to construct a 15 by 35 foot addition to an existing garage was denied by the council. The reason for the denial was the addition proximity to a utility easement. An electric line to a street light was in the easement, but according to city electrician Matt Blocker, it was possible that other lines belonging to cable companies or phone companies could also be in the same easement. A certain amount of clearance is necessary to allow construction equipment in to dig up and repair lines, and the proposed addition blocks access. The vote to deny the request passed three to two with council members Paul Fisch and Robert Lemke voting against the denial.
Another variance request came from Duane Strub who is buying land near the industrial district. The proposal requires a 21 foot setback from the south property line, a 30 foot setback from the west property line and a 1,679 square foot variance on size of the parcel to be less than the 20,000 square feet allowed. The council agreed to approve Strub’s request on the grounds that he was simply buying additional property.
The council approved a change order on the sanitary sewer rehabilitation project near Lincoln and Grant Streets. This change order adds an additional $5,410 to the project for a total of $841,305. In addition to materials, a time extension is deemed necessary as the construction crew encountered substantial rock during the excavation process. With colder weather coming more of the project than originally intended will need to be delayed until spring of 2013.
Davy Engineering also sent a letter to the council regarding the North Pine Street portion of the project. The restoration work originally planned for North Pine Street included pavement patches between High and McKinley Streets, a spot repair near the intersection of McKinley and the repairs needed for the new lift station.
It was suggested that restoration and resurfacing be revised to include the entire roadway width through all of these repair areas. The additional cost for this work is estimated to be $5,600.
The council approved the change.
The council approved EMS workers to take an instructor course at the Austin fire station. The course is designed to provide a basic introduction of concepts for the beginning EMS educator. Three EMS employees are interested in taking the course. The cost is $225 per person. Additional cost will be incurred when the three individuals stay a night in Austin to attend the final two class meetings Nov. 10 and 11. Ambulance director Mike Tornstorm said the course will pay for itself with money Caledonia will make with three extra instructors available to teach EMS training.
During a storm last August a city tree fell and knocked the power out at a residence on West Grove Street. The power was reconnected as quickly as possible and cost $110. After the incident, the city’s insurance carrier decided the city was not at fault as the tree showed no outward signs of disease or rot. The home owner does not have the funds to pay for the cost, so the council chose to assess the bill to the property owner’s taxes over the course of the next three years.
With election day less than a month away two council seats and the mayor’s position are open with only a single individual – Tom Murphy – filed to run.
With no one running for the position it is likely that the next mayor of Caledonia will be a write-in candidate.
Current Mayor Robert Burns was asked if he would accept the position in the event he were to win as a write-in candidate. “I’d have to decide at the time,” said Burns, “I’d really prefer that someone had a write-in campaign and ran for the seat.”
• Zoning Administrator Mike Gerardy came to the board to clarify if a bed and breakfast would be allowed to operate in Caledonia’s central business district. An individual contacted him concerning a building on Kingston Street they intend to purchase.
Gerardy said zoning ordinances do allow for hotels and motels but wanted to confirm that bed and breakfast establishments would fall under that classification. The council did not see any great difference and consented that a bed and breakfast would be allowed.
• Mayor Burns asked if it were possible for the Council to take action to restrict houses from falling so far into disrepair that it causes property values to diminish. City Administrator Ted Schoonover said this should be covered in Caledonia’s public nuisance ordinance.
• The Council approved $90,270 payment to Davy Engineering for work performed on the rehabilitation project.
• A resolution was approved by the council to renew the joint powers agreement between the city of Caledonia and the State of Minnesota through the Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate and combat the exploitation of children through the use of computers.
• A public hearing date was set for tree removal costs and special tax assessment for Mike Conner residence at 324 West Main Street. The meeting date is Nov. 5 at 6:15 p.m.
• The next regularly scheduled city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m.