Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Options mulled for Fire Dept. storage issues

Plans for joint fire hall stalled over cost, size

Jodi Summit
Posted 8/16/17

TOWER- Tower Ambulance Director Steve Altenburg asked the Tower City Council, Tuesday, to consider some shorter-term options for solving the fire department’s equipment storage issues.

The …

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Options mulled for Fire Dept. storage issues

Plans for joint fire hall stalled over cost, size

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TOWER- Tower Ambulance Director Steve Altenburg asked the Tower City Council, Tuesday, to consider some shorter-term options for solving the fire department’s equipment storage issues.

The department’s storage garage burned down several years ago, and the city opted not to immediately build a replacement since they were exploring options for a new joint fire hall.

Plans for the joint building have stalled, mostly over issues with cost and size.

“We are obviously not building a structure this year,” said Altenburg. “We have equipment sitting outside and two storage units full of stuff.”

Altenburg asked the council to consider constructing a large garage, with living quarters upstairs, or a garage and small house, somewhere on city-owned land.

“This would be a stopgap measure until a new hall is built,” he said. “My thought is the city would then have something of value they could sell later.”

Altenburg reminded the council they received $150,000 in insurance money for the burned building. He estimated a 48’x100’ metal building would cost approximately $50,000 plus site prep costs and foundation to erect.

“I don’t know what to do or how long it will be until we have a new building,” he said.

Council member Kevin Fitton wondered if there was hangar space at the airport that could be used. City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith said all the hangar spots are full. There is one hangar for sale, she said, but heard that a sale is pending. Also it was noted that hangars are not supposed to be used for non-aviation purposes. It was noted that Breitung already has plans to use the MINOS building, so using that for storage would not be an option.

Altenburg suggested the new structure could be built on the city-owned forestry lot, on North Second Street, and council members discussed other possible sites.

The council made no decisions at the meeting, but noted they would like to meet with the city engineers to discuss possible options.

“I don’t think it’s a terrible idea,” said Mayor Josh Carlson. “But we haven’t had time to sit down with our engineers to see what our options might be.”

The fire department has had a busy month, and Altenburg noted that turnout at the seven fire calls this summer has been excellent. He alluded to the house fire earlier this month that claimed the life of a young child, and said how hard this had been on department members.

The Tower Ambulance Service has recorded 221 runs this year through the end of July . He noted they had to turn down a large number of transfer requests so far this year.

The department received a $3,500 grant from the DNR to purchase radios, pagers, and foam. The department will match this amount with $3,500 from its equipment fund. They also have been reimbursed for over $6,500 in training costs for the past 12 months, which is higher than the normal maximum reimbursement of $4,000.

Dump property sale

The sale of the city-owned former dump site, on Hoodoo Point Road, has not taken place. At their last meeting, the council awarded the bid to Carol St. John and Terry Hildreth, who had the high bid of $36,000 for the parcel. But Keith informed the council that St. John had called city hall the day before, and said she was unsure of whether or not they would proceed, on account of serious medical issues.

“It was a difficult conversation,” said Keith, who noted that St. John did not definitely back out of the sale. Keith said she missed a call from St. John earlier that day, and called back and left a message, but did not hear back by the time of the meeting.

The city attorney had advised that if the buyer backs out, the city needs to offer the land to the next highest bidder, since it would not be fair to call for a second round of bids when the first round had already been made public. The council voted to require a statement of intention from the high bidder by their meeting on Aug. 28.

The next highest bidder was Geoff Griffin, at $32,050, and the third bidder was Dave Rose at $30,509.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• Requested the assistance of a Sentence to Serve crew to do brushing on the city’s cross-country ski trail, airport area, and at Potters Field.

• Approved the first reading of the amendment to Ordinance 82 which will require that a professional survey be completed (or have previously been completed) for building permits that are encroaching on a setback or property line. The amendment will basically require a survey for most new construction, fences at property lines, and in some other cases. The amendment also requires that any survey done as part of a property sale be placed on file at city hall. The second reading is set for the Aug. 28 meeting, and the ordinance would then become effective once published on Sept. 1, 2017.

The ordinance now also states that any construction not permitted or improperly placed will be the homeowner’s responsibility to resolve or remove at their own expense.

• Will be calling for bids for the Hoodoo Point sewer project, with bid opening planned for the second week in September. The engineers will meet with Hoodoo Point manager Randy Pratt before submitting the final drawings for bid. The engineers also asked if the city maintenance crew could do some test digging at the site planned for the relocation of a lift station at the campground.

• Engineer Matt Bolf reported that the legal descriptions needed for the town home project were close to completion, and they were just waiting to see if any changes were being made to the town home building layout due to some concerns over wetlands at one end of the harbor area. Once the layout is finalized, the city will be ready to move ahead with the trail project and dock project, Bolf said. In addition, once the final layout is ready, the designs for the road and utilities can be finalized.

• Bolf told the council he was working on final designs for the welcome park at the civic center area with the committee, and that design drafts were available at city hall.

• Bolf and engineer Jason Chopp also met with a council committee after the meeting for discussions on the new entrance sign, its permitting, and location.

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Shaking my head

Greenwood would be a good partner We have lots of storage space.

Saturday, August 26, 2017