Scandia Council finds way to help with benefit

Scandia Community Center will host the event on March 31

Mary Bailey
Scandia Reporter

Wanting to support a family in need without breaking the law or setting a bad precedent, the Scandia City Council hit upon a compromise at their Tuesday, Feb. 21 meeting.

Jennifer Sterner of Woodbury requested that the city waive its $475 community center rental fee for a fund-raiser for her mother-in-law, Pat Sterner, who needs a kidney transplant.

The city is not allowed to make gifts of public funds. Rental fees are waived for the Lions, 4-H, and senior citizens’ groups, but changing city policy to expand this list could increase the demand, with the city covering the costs for additional events.

The council rejected the idea of exchanging the rental fee for some service, such as a park clean-up, because the jobs require special skills or use of dangerous machinery.

But changing the reservation from nonresident to resident would save the family $275. City Administrator Anne Hurlburt suggested they substitute the contract for one signed by a Scandia resident, and said there would be no cancellation fee.

According to her daughter-in-law, Pat Sterner, who has polycystic kidney disease, is a former Title I employee at Scandia Elementary School and lives just outside Scandia in Forest Lake. The benefit will be on March 31.

Special Events

Instead of offering a professional wrestling event this spring, Meister’s Bar and Grill plants to offer a classic car show and motorcycle run on Saturday, May 19, with live music from 5 p.m. until midnight.

The classic cars will be on Meister’s lots and grass field from 4-6 p.m. Other parking will be on the street. Participating motorcyclists will leave Meister’s at 1 p.m. and return about 5 p.m.

Before voting to approve the special event permit, Mayor Randall Simonson expressed concern about noise and other violations by motorcyclists. In the past, he said, when a large number of motorcycles come through Scandia, they have generated extreme noise and ignored traffic rules.

“On Oakhill Road,” he said, “there is excessive speeding in both the 30- and 55-mph zones.” He has witnessed a group of motorcyclists turning onto Highway 95, he added, with not one biker stopping at the stop sign.

Meister’s owner Scot Taylor said, “We’ll do our best to quash those things.”

The council also approved a gambling permit for Scandia Women’s Softball for their Ham Bingo on March 30 and Turkey Bingo on Nov. 16.

Community Market

After experimenting with a Wednesday evening market last summer, this year the city will expand the hours and lengthen the season. In addition to garden produce, baked goods and non-food items will be for sale.

Held once again in the Gammelgarden Museum parking lot, the Scandia Community Market will run Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m. June through September, with an October Fall Festival planned.

The vendor fee this summer will be $15 per night or $45 for the season.

To advertise the community market, the city will interpret the entire season of Wednesdays as one event.  Three signs will be posted and left up between 10 days before the first Wednesday and one day after the last one. This way the city will not have to violate or waive its own sign ordinance.

Fire Department

Two retiring firefighters, Kent Swenson and Greg Johnson, were honored with plaques and a cake and coffee reception.

The department is recruiting new members with the intention of adding six new members this year and another six in 2013. The council authorized advertising and recruiting for probationary firefighters. The deadline to apply is March 30.

Applicants must be high school graduates, at least 18 years old and able to meet department physical standards. Starting this year, applicants must live or work within an eight-minute response time to the Scandia fire station.

The council approved this change at the Feb. 21 meeting.

Benefits include city-paid training and retirement programs and an hourly wage for responding to calls. At the meeting the council also approved changing the probationary period from 24 months to 12 months.

Fire Chief Jim Finnegan said January was a quiet month, with five fire-related and eight medical calls. The process of establishing a new ambulance service is close to final, he said. Scandia will conduct a joint school bus extrication drill with the Forest Lake department, with the training paid for by a grant.

Uptown Sewer

A comprehensive study by the engineering firm Bolton & Menk last year led to a list of repairs and improvements needed for the city’s Uptown Sewer, which serves the community center and warming house, church and museum, and downtown businesses.

On Feb. 21 the council approved an agreement with Bolton & Menk to start the project. Run-time meters will be installed on pumps so that data can be collected for two months in the spring. The warming house pump tank controls will also be replaced. Costs are estimated to be about $22,500, charged to the Uptown Sewer Fund.

Other tasks on the list will be performed by city staff on city property at city expense. These include converting the old maintenance shop drain to a holding tank and installing risers and secure access tank covers at the community center and warming house.

Anderson/Erickson Sewer

In response to a variance request to build a house on Big Marine Lake and hook up to the city’s 201 sewer system, the city hired engineering firm Stantec to analyze the Anderson/Erickson portion of that system. City Engineer Ryan Goodman of Stantec presented the initial findings.

Goodman said the system was designed for 6,700 gallons per day but is not being operated in accordance with the initial design. Instead of two-thirds of the system being used at one time, only one-third is used. The average daily flow of 5,600 gallons is too much for one-third, he said.

Adding an elevated mound to the drain field might add capacity for 2,000 to 2,500 gallons per day, he said. Another option is acquiring adjacent land for expansion.

Adding pretreatment and switching to pressure-pipe distribution could increase the capacity to over 10,000 gallons per day, with the potential to serve 45 connections. This increase would cause the system to be regulated by the state instead of the county.

Without repairs and upgrades, Goodman said, his firm cannot recommend more connections.  Of the 30 homes currently connected, he added, at least nine could become year-round properties.

“We need to put a long-term plan in place,” he concluded. “The time to address these things is now.”

The council approved a new contract with the county to operate the Anderson/Erickson portion of the 201 sewer system. The previous contract proposed by the county was rejected by the city because of liability issues. The new contract makes the city and county each responsible for its own acts.

The city can terminate the contract with 30 days notice. Because the county now issues the permit for this size system, the city must find a new contractor to operate and maintain it. Washington County will continue to operate the Bliss portion of the system

Wastewater Advisory Committee

A new committee will be formed to advise the council on sewer issues for both the Uptown Sewer and the 201 system serving residents of Big Marine Lake.

In addition to elected officials and city staff, the group needs citizens with technical expertise, residential users, business users, and a representative of Elim and Gammelgarden Museum.

Mining Permits

The council renewed the annual operating permits for both sand and gravel mines currently operating in the city.

For the Bracht Brothers mine on 185th Street, there was no active mining in 2011. Instead, existing stockpiles were removed, with about three loads per day, on average, hauled from the site. Some areas were spread with topsoil and seeded, part of the land reclamation process.

The same activity is planned for 2012. As they did last year, the council agreed that the city would pay for the first application of calcium chloride for dust control on the street.

The Tiller operation located on Manning Trail now includes the former Dresel Mine. Tiller’s conditional use permit allows excavating into the ground water, but this did not occur in 2011 and is not expected in 2012. Last year the mine used a million gallons of water, out of the 20 million allowed.

In addition to mining sand and gravel, Tiller brings add-rock, recycled asphalt and concrete from other locations for processing here.  Hot-mix asphalt is produced on the site. In 2011 the average number of trips to and from the mine each day was 176.

The council included in the annual operating permit that engine braking is prohibited in Scandia, Lofton Avenue is restricted to daytime use only, and haul loads must be secured according to state requirements.

Zavoral EIS

After the draft Environmental Impact Statement is officially released on Feb. 28, residents are invited to submit comments. The comment period runs March 19 to May 18. At the April 14 planning commission meeting, comments can be given verbally and will be recorded by a court reporter. The city must respond to each comment.