Wyoming requests advance of state aid

Park Board suspended; reorganization in the works

 

Alice Pickering
Wyoming Reporter

The Wyoming City Council on Nov. 19 authorized the request of an advance on Minnesota State Aid funds for five years. The city is eligible for $340,000 annually, so the request will be for $1.7 million.

The request, at the recommendation of City Engineer Mark Erichson, came because improvements on Greenway Avenue are being considered “sooner rather than later.”

Approval would give the city more flexibility in completing the road repairs anticipated to begin in 2014. Funds are advanced on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no guarantee of their availability. However, an early application helps, Erichson said.

Council approved the request by a vote of 4-0. Steve Zerwas did not attend the meeting.

Park Board reorganization

City Council members adopted a resolution temporarily suspending meetings of the city of Wyoming Park Board. The board’s organization has not been reviewed since 2004, well before the merger of city and township in 2008. The suspension is an effort to examine and create a mission for the board, examine bylaws and set guidelines, and establish a budget and capital improvement project requirements.

Assistant City Administrator Robb Linwood confirmed that the reorganization will be completed by city staff with input from the council.

The plan includes dismissing the current board members with the understanding they will be allowed to reapply for positions when the reorganization is complete. Meanwhile, Public Works will continue maintenance of the city’s parks, and park activities will continue. Council unanimously approved the action.

Well protection plan

Nancy Ziegler, Water and Wastewater Group Manager of WSB & Associates, and John Freitag of the Minnesota Department of Health presented information about the city’s wellhead protection plan. The plan’s first phase was completed at the end of 2012 and found that the aquifer supplying the greater Wyoming area has low vulnerability to contaminants.

The second phase, to be completed in 2014, will include an inventory of potential contaminants, along with data evaluation and preparation of the plan’s management portion. This includes locating and evaluating private wells. Erichson said some may not be abandoned but are no longer used. Some may need to be sealed to prevent contaminants from entering them. The city may develop an ordinance that regulates where wells may be located.

Public Works Supervisor Jason Windingstad indicated that medical and industrial facilities must have state permits, for which criteria are different. The city’s water supply is basically in good condition. This planning is to help keep it that way.

Study declined

Council members opted out of participation in an East Central Regional Housing Study. Cherre Palenius, of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, said the study would consider types and numbers of available housing units in the counties between the Twin Cities, St. Cloud and Duluth. Palenius indicated that the cost would be lower for all participants if cities collaborated.

The area has been overlooked by developers and has had difficulty attracting business without housing for workers, Palenius said. The target counties are Aitken, Carlton, Mille Lacs, Kanabec, Isanti, Pine and Chisago. Data could be used to demonstrate housing need and to complete state and federal applications to support development.

Councilor Roger Elmore felt that the city had a lot of data about housing already, and Councilor Joe Zerwas was hesitant for the city to contribute $3,000 for the study. Councilor Linda Yeager said that Wyoming is more on the fringes of the urban area.

City Administrator Craig Mattson observed that the city does not qualify for rural funding and it competes with the metro area for Minnesota Housing Finance Agency funds. He also believes that a lack of mass transit options is more critical. The council voted 3-1 against participation.

Hallberg donation

Recently, the Hallberg Family Foundation gave the Wyoming Public Safety Department a donation of $15,400 to be applied to safety equipment that was previously unfunded.

The donation will be used to purchase three new sets of turn-out gear for the fire department ($6,254), a thermal imaging camera for the fire department ($6,202) and a portable digital surveillance camera system for investigations ($2,944).

Council members accepted the donation on behalf of the Public Safety department and thanked the foundation.

Other business

In other business, the council:

– Learned that Sgt. Scott Dexter plans to retire from the Wyoming Police Department effective Dec. 30. He has been a member of the Wyoming force for 27 years. Procedures to fill this vacancy will be discussed at an upcoming council work session.

– Approved a contribution of $5,800 from the city to the Wyoming Fire Department Relief Association. This amounts to $200 for each of the group’s 29 members.

– Authorized the sale, through online auction or disposal, for scrap of two impounded, forfeited vehicles.

– Learned from Fred Weck, building official, that plumbing, heating and electrical installation is complete in the DaVita Dialysis Clinic. Interior finishing work has begun and exterior work plans are being finalized.

– Voted to close several funds not in compliance with Government Accounting Standards Board law regarding special revenue funds.

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