ELY – City council members this week authorized proceeding with a $9 million project at the wastewater treatment facility, and following a recent study session and a public hearing earlier this …
ELY – City council members this week authorized proceeding with a $9 million project at the wastewater treatment facility, and following a recent study session and a public hearing earlier this year, approved the formation of a subcommittee to negotiate an engineering contract and project scope.
Council members Paul Kess and Albert Forsman will be joined by representatives from the Ely Utility Commission and city staff to begin work with engineers on the project as early as next week.
The project addresses a variety of issues, including improvements to meet new state mercury standards, equipment replacement, and other issues at the plant, according to Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski, who said that some of the equipment is more than two decades old.
“We need to expedite this as soon as we can, as we need a plan submitted by January,” he told council members on Tuesday. “With design approval by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, we need to be under construction by next spring, with completion next summer.”
City officials are hoping that a $7 million state grant will fund a large share of the project. A revolving state loan fund could help bridge the financing gap. The impacts to utility rates should be minimal as current utility debt payments will be retired next year, Langowski noted.
New mercury limits are incorporated into the current permit for the facility. A mitigation plan to address high-flow events that put the city over the limits was developed last year by JPJ Engineering of Hibbing. That firm subcontracted with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, according to Langowski, to establish potential options that address the mercury discharge and improvements to the wastewater facility.
In other business, the council took the following actions:
• Approved a recommendation from the Telecommunications Advisory Board to use the TAB fund balance to upgrade the microphone audio system in council chambers for $29,169, with the work being completed by Custom Theaters of Ely.
• Passed a resolution establishing an agreement with the State of Minnesota to maintain the public fishing pier at Miners Lake.
• Authorized resumption of shelter rentals at Semer’s Park and Whiteside Park, on a recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Committee, under state Department of Health guidelines to address COVID-19 public health concerns.
• Accepted a demolition quote of $23,350 from G-Men Environmental Services for the demolition of the remains of a house at 131 E Conan Street that was destroyed by fire last month, and to utilize grant monies from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation for the project.
• Initiated the hiring process of a new officer for the Ely Police Department, likely to be completed early next year.
• Approved a Storefront Rehabilitation Loan of $12,000 for Doug Scheibe of Front Porch Coffee and Tea Co. for a new roof at the Sheridan Street business.
• Approved a resolution appointing election judges for 2020.
• Authorized a request from Prospector Trail Alliance for assistance with payment on a 10-year lease for state lands along the ATV trail system for up to $50,000, to be reimbursed through an IRRR grant or state funds.
• Mayor Chuck Novak introduced the new USFS Kawishiwi District Ranger Aaron Kania (see page 10) who replaces Ranger Gus Smith.