FLAAA lot issue remains unresolved

Council tables decision on whether to waive improvement requirement


Clint Riese
News Editor

The Forest Lake City Council on Monday night passed several measures on split votes and tabled another that also seems destined to divide up the yeas and nays.

The council spent the most time on the item it ultimately decided to delay action on. The group lacked consensus on a request from the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association to waive a requirement for FLAAA to finish a parking lot at its sports center. That order was detailed in the site improvement plan agreed to in 2008, and the city holds a letter of credit in the amount of $56,000.

The city has three options: it could cash the letter of credit and have the lot paved, it could grant FLAAA another extension on the work, or it could waive the requirement and release the letter of credit.

The area in question, which is now used as a gravel parking lot, is located southeast of the facility. FLAAA was to finish it by October of 2009.

With the sports center struggling financially, FLAAA executive board member Larry Porter asked the city to waive the requirement. He called it an unnecessary expense and said the center has run fine without the lot being paved to this point.

Councilman Jim DuFour advocated waiving the requirement because it would benefit a valuable community asset in FLAAA.

“Just to help the children in our community, I can’t see holding that over their head,” he said, noting that the land in question is city-owned.

With council member Jackie McNamara not present, the council tabled the item in order to look into the matter further.

Highway 61 Report Accepted

Another item that has seen its way onto the council agenda several times finally came away with approval. The council voted 3-1 to accept the final report of the Highway 61 Aesthetics and Water Quality Planning Study. The multi-agency effort outlines design standards that will be desired as the corridor develops.

Councilman Mike Freer cast the dissenting vote, citing concern that the report’s contents regarding the public right-of-way along the front of businesses will burden potential developers.

“It’s a nice way of saying, ‘You’re not required to do it, but we’re going to encourage you to do it, and we may make it more difficult if you don’t do it,’” he said. “It’s just another way of government saying ‘This is what you’re going to do, like it or not.’”

Mayor Chris Johnson joined DuFour and council member Susan Young in voting to accept the report.

“Some of the criticism [I heard while] growing up in town was that there wasn’t enough planning along the Broadway corridor as that redeveloped, and I think that here we have an opportunity as this corridor redevelops to be ahead of the curve,” Johnson said.

Water Improvement Plan Passes

The council members voted in the same 3-1 manner regarding cost-sharing and maintenance agreements with the Forest Lake Comfort Lake Watershed District for a water quality enhancement project at the intersection of North Shore Trail and Hayward Avenue.

The city and watershed district will evenly share the estimated cost of $41,080 on the project which is projected to significantly lower the amount of phosphorus entering Forest Lake at that location.