Council defends pool renovation project
By Clay Schuldt
During the Aug. 12 Caledonia City Council meeting Joel Boone expressed his concerns regarding pool renovations. Boone said he believed it was a mistake to put any more money into the pool as there were not enough customers using it to begin with.
“I went up there four days in July and August… the most I saw was 13 and the least was four. That’s pretty tough to pay almost $2 million,” Boone said. He suggested the money given by the city could be used elsewhere, such as road repair.
Council member Randi Vick said that while she could see where Boone was coming from with his argument, she believed the numbers are down because most people in Caledonia are choosing to go to the Spring Grove and La Crescent pools as they have more to offer.
Council member Dewayne Schroeder also cited the cold weather for the decrease in pool activity, which even effected Spring Grove.
Boone said he did not believe swimmers opting to travel to Spring Grove was reason enough to build a new pool, saying it would be cheaper to bus kids over to Spring Grove.
Mayor Robert Burns defended the pool renovation project as a benefit to Caledonia. “If someone is moving somewhere in southeast Minnesota and one place has more things for the family than the other… I personally think we need to maintain a family-friendly community as far as keeping people in town.”
Boone continued to dissent and mentioned that a potential increase to taxes would be a greater deterrent for new families. Burns countered by saying he believed Caledonia’s taxes were still lower than most surrounding communities.
“I think you should put it up to a vote for the city instead of leaving it up to 10 women and their husbands,” Boone said referencing the fundraising efforts of the S.O.S. Committee.
Burns confirmed that the council had considered voting on a pool bond. “If we have to make it a bond issue to get the money necessary to build the pool we have to put it up for a vote,” Burns explained.
Boone suggested the council would attempt to hide any tax increase in the electrical rates or water rates.
Burns defended the pool saying it was a service provided by the city for people with families and children. Burns said not everyone is capable of driving to Spring Grove, such as daycare providers or parents who want their kids to stay in town.
“You’ve got to remember 50 years ago when the pool was built it was other people who built it for the rest of us to enjoy,” Vick said.
“If you talk to people with kids that are all grown up, they are upset that they have to pay taxes to support the school. When your kids are in school it is a different story,” Burns said, who added that the pool improves the quality of life for Caledonia residents. “If you don’t have the pool and people start to leave, the values of your properties are going to go down.”
“You can’t back up three years and start over again – it’s too late for that,” Schroeder said. “We either go forward or we go behind.”
The council approved a paving project with Mathy Construction for South Decorah and South Ramsey Street. South Hokah Street was originally part of the project but the council decided to wait on Hokah Street as the cost for each street is $16,813. Burns abstained from voting.
The council approved the purchase of a new pump for McPhail Street lift station and the repair of the old one for the Sunnyside lift station. Burns warned that with continued need to replace or repair lift station pumps, the city may have to revisit rate structures pertaining to sewers and water.
A pay request from Griffin Construction in that amount of $88,766 and pay request from Winona Mechanical in the amount of $47,345 were approved as part of the sanitary sewer project.
A change order from Winona Mechanical was accepted that reduced the cost of the project by $18,960.
Kingston Street sidewalk
Requests were sent out to three contractors for quotes for the Kingston Street sidewalk. The city received a single quote from Meyer Construction.
The council estimated the cost of the project would come in around $38,000. The city was awarded a $10,000 grant for the work, lowering the cost to $28,000.
Council member Schroeder suggested using money saved from the Hokah Street paving project to cover some of the expense.
Council member Robert Lemke made a motion to accept the Meyer bid, which was approved by the council.
Earlier in the meeting the council approved a walking path survey by Yaggy Colby Associates in the amount of $2,109. This path will run parallel to Hwy. 44. The survey is necessary in order to establish a plan for the Department of Transportation to qualify for $50,000 in state funding. The plan is to eventually create a walking loop around North Park and Kingston Street.
In other news
• An application from Sharon Cocoran was approved by the council and will allow her to construct a five foot by nine foot open porch on the front of her home at South Pine Street. The proposal required a 16 foot, 3 inch setback variance from the front property line and will match up with the house next door.
• A new blower is needed at the waste water treatment plant. After a recent inspection it was recommended that the old blower not be repaired as the drive rotor, drive head plate, all bearings, seals and gaskets would need to be replaced. The price of the new blower is $4,580 and will be available in four weeks.
• The council went out for proposals on boring samples at the swimming pool and approved the quote from Chosen Valley Testing, Inc. in the amount of $2,074.
• The council approved the school crossing guard agreement for the 2013-14 school year with Caledonia School District.
• The 2013 city insurance renewal was approved.