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BRAINERD CITY COUNCIL: Benches to be removed

Two new additions to the Brainerd scenery are set to be removed before they’ve really been noticed — or used. Two benches advertising “affordable court resources” located on the southeast corner of Laurel Street and South Seventh Street in historic downtown and at the northeast corner of West Washington Street and Northwest Fourth Street in front of Walgreen’s are to be removed as soon as possible as motioned and approved by the Brainerd City Council Monday night.

The benches, belonging to Benchmark QR of Blaine appeared at the specified locations over the past few weeks without council members recalling any actual approval for Benchmark QR to place them. The Brainerd Safety and Public Works committee recommended the removal of the benches prior to the council meeting, hearing from three concerned citizens and reviewing numerous emails all expressing the desire to remove the benches.

“I noticed the benches and advertising on March 11 and unless the regulations for off site signage has changed, I believe that this goes against ordinance,” said Ed Menk, owner of E.L. Menk Jewelers. “In addition it really is just an eyesore and I don’t feel like it fits the theme and purpose of the streetscape.

“I would really like to see the benches removed.”

Council members agreed and unanimously set the removal for the two benches with Benchmark QR responsible for picking them up.

In other action council reviewed potential participation in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program. GreenStep aims focus on local government opportunities to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases along with “cost-effective sustainable development best practices in the categories of buildings, transportation, land use, environmental management and economic and community development.”

Council president Mary Koep felt moving forward with GreenStep wasn’t a necessary process at the present time, saying council should first focus on becoming more “business friendly” in general and motioned to form subcommittee of business members and public on how GreenStep could help them and the community. Council member Bob Olson agreed with Koep.

“I too have read the information on the GreenStep and the concerns I have is I have a real hesitancy to go ahead and adopt a resolution for a (GreenStep) Program when all we hear is the green stuff causes a lot of headaches,” said Olson.

A roll call pushed Koep’s recommendation for a committee formation and discussion on GreenStep down the road in May with a 4-3 vote in favor. Lucy Nesheim, Dale Parks and Bonnie Cumberland voted against.

“We have the ability to take credit for lowering costs to business’ and a chance to save taxpayers dollars,” said Cumberland. “I think we should really consider this and continue to accomplish as much as possible for the community.”

Brainerd City Council is now accepting applications for five positions:

•Transportation Committee — Two positions with terms to expire 12/31/13

•Cable TV Advisory Committee — One position with term to expire 12/31/12

•Charter Commission — One position with term to expire 12/31/12

•Planning Commission — One position with term to expire 12/31/12

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).