Compost site remains closed in FL

Council briefed on situation

Clint Riese
News Editor

All parties involved are working toward the resolution of the permitting issue that is keeping Forest Lake’s compost site closed to the public, but work remains to be done.

City Administrator Aaron Parrish told the City Council on Monday that representatives from the city, Washington County and site operator Buberl Recycling and Compost met on site Friday and Monday.

“We’ve been very diligent,” Parrish said. “… But we still do not have a definitive time frame for the issuance of a permit at this point.”

In order to issue a permit, the county is requiring a written plan for the cleanup of untreated concrete. The material in question, used in base pads at the facility, was taken from housing demolition and was not processed to the county’s standard. Some of it was also brought in when no permit was in place.

Parrish said the city and Buberl are incorporating the county’s revisions to the plan. Once it is accepted, the material will need to be removed before the permit can be issued.

The city’s Public Works Department dug 10-12 pits at the site Monday to determine the scope of removal necessary.

Parrish said he believes final reconciliation on the cleanup plan has been achieved, but he told the council the city will be ready to send Buberl a notice of noncompliance under the current contract if the company does not handle the removal.

The city is also in discussion with the city of Hugo regarding the potential for Forest Lake residents to access the compost site there.

Meanwhile, Forest Lake council members sounded fed up with the delay.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Councilman Ben Winnick said. “We’re not the ones who caused it, but we’re getting a black eye out of it.”

Winnick and Councilman Mike Freer asked Parrish to track how much money the issue costs the city.

Other business

In other business on Monday, the council approved hiring Jessica Racchini as the administrative assistant for the Police Department. The Forest Lake resident is currently a police technician for the city of Coon Rapids. She was picked from a field of 175 candidates.

The opening stems from the retirement of longtime Police Department employee Kim Lange. The new administrative assistant position is part of the city’s ongoing staff reorganization.

The council also approved two road projects: a mill and overlay bid of $462,449 and a seal coat bid of $200,145.

The mill and overlay bid came in far under budget and will allow for the project’s expansion to include more roads.

It “blew my budget out of the water,” said City Engineer Ryan Goodman, who chalked up the favorable response to early season bidding. The city recently went to an every-other-year plan for mill and overlay work in order to create bigger projects that tend to receive more favorable bids.

The mill and overlay work will take place primarily on streets south of First Lake.