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Town meeting covers the gamut

Brainerd City Council member Bonnie Cumberland (left) watched as Chris Grossman

From discussing the College Drive project to sidewalks to the shared services between Brainerd and Baxter, the topics were varied Thursday at the BrainerdCity Council’s town meeting at the Brainerd Fire Department.

In a more relaxed, informal gathering, about 40 people, mainly Brainerd City Council members and staff, socialized during the first hour of the meeting, eating ice cream and other goodies, all donated by Brainerd area businesses. 

Then council president Mary Koep, who spearheaded the town meeting in an effort to create better communications with the city and its residents by telling them that they could ask anything they wanted too, but could not personally attack anyone.

The questions were broad. But Brainerd resident Paul Seidenstricker of Anda Construction, who said he was representing the Colonywood Apartments on College Drive, brought up the College Drive project that led to other questions.

Seidenstricker said the project would cause drainage problems, the apartment would lose parking spaces and he was concerned for the special education students and other pedestrians walking across the road, especially during construction.

He and other also wanted to know the timeline of the project.

City Engineer Jeff Hulsether said the city had to readvertise for bids for the project, causing a delay in the project. He said hopefully the project would start in mid-October. Hulsether said they are working on the drainage issues and access for parking for the apartment buildings.

Hulsether told Seidenstricker to leave his name and phone number and he would be glad to talk with him in more detail about his concerns.

Another resident asked what the city’s goal was with the project. Hulsether said goals included accommodating the present and future traffic, improving intersections and side road accesses, providing sidewalks and trail for pedestrians and to not have it be a raceway.

Carter Kuehn of Brainerd asked about how the shared services between Brainerd and Baxter was working. 

Brainerd Administrator Dan Vogt said the city recently entered into an agreement with Baxter to share a building inspector. Vogt said if one of the city’s inspectors is sick the other city can help out and vice versus. He said so far the shared services is working well and the cities are keeping track of the funding and at the end of the year one city will write a check to the other for the services.

Vogt said the city has provided fire and police mutual aid for years, as well as sharing a prosecutor that has worked out well.

Gary Deming, who lives on Crow Wing County Road 123, had a complaint about the way the curbs looked coming into Brainerd. Deming, who said he has lived in the area since 1968, said every time he and his wife drive into Brainerd, that the city did not look appealing. Deming asked the city staff who takes care of all the weeds at the curbs.

Vogt said the Minnesota Department of Transportation is responsible for those areas. Vogt said the city officials talked to MnDOT officials years ago about it, but haven’t in the last few years.

Vogt said he’d like to see it look nice, too. He said some areas have residents who cut the weeds. He said the city could do it, but it doesn’t have a certified sprayer on staff to do it.

Jeff Czeczok, Brainerd, said he had an idea where the fire department and the first responders at Ambulance North could work together to save money since the firefighters are Emergency Medical Technicians. He said he had talked with Fire Chief Kevin Stunek about this. Stunek said it has been something that has been discussed where firefighters and first responders could work together. He said if North Ambulance is tied up on a call the firefighters could respond and vice versus.

Czeczok also asked Stunek if the department could charge a repeat offender on a call when they call on a false alarm to help bring in revenue. 

Stunek said the department is seriously looking at ways to bring in revenue. He said they looked at charging people for things, such as false alarms and fire permits.

Czeczok also asked about what the city’s policy was on clearing snow on sidewalks. Hulsether said the city has looked at its policy after last winter’s ice storm where people had trouble clearing their sidewalks.

The city’s comprehensive plan also was discussed.

Koep said that all the issues that were addressed at the town meeting would be looked into further by city staff and council.

See more photos from this event at

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851.