A coordinator to head up the Mississippi Riverfront project will be funded by a $33,000 grant from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation (BLACF) after the Brainerd City Council voted to accept it Monday.
The goal of the riverfront project is to transform land along the Mississippi River into a community destination, with long-term visions including a public park, wetland boardwalk, public art, an outdoor public amphitheater, performing arts center and business development.
Who will head up the administration of the grant and the hiring process for the coordinator proved to be a difficult question for the council to answer. At its April 6 meeting, the council initially decided in a 4-2 vote to retain oversight itself of the grant, contrary to a suggestion by a BLACF board member that the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) might be better equipped to administer the grant and oversee the work of the coordinator.
On Monday, the BLACF board came back with a drafted resolution seeking reassurance the city council intended to abide by the goals and objectives as submitted in the accepted grant application.
Among the objectives listed in city planner Mark Ostgarden's application is a statement indicating the city might not have the time needed to administer the grant itself.
"The ability for the city of Brainerd to facilitate is limited due to the time that will be needed for this process," Ostgarden wrote.
The resolution made clear the foundation is viewing the riverfront project as a community-wide effort, not only a city one.
"It is a community project that will require individuals, agencies, organizations and institutions to work together toward a common goal," the resolution reads.
In light of the council's April 6 decision, Ostgarden submitted a memo suggesting the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board would oversee the implementation of grant dollars.
Council member Mary Koep said her peers on the personnel and finance committee thought the HRA should oversee the grant and would seek to rescind last meeting's motion.
Council member Dave Pritschet made the motion to rescind, and council member Gabe Johnson clarified that he and Pritschet felt the city should have the "final say" while HRA should do the hiring and work with the Riverfront Steering Committee.
Koep suggested some transparency and integrity in the process would be lost by handing over the reins to HRA.
"I'm dismayed at the cavalier attitude I'm seeing on something of this magnitude," Koep said.
Council member Chip Borkenhagen said the council was over-complicating the matter.
"This hesitance, as I understand it, from the grantor (is) to give the city council the money and have all of us micromanaging the details when we have a whole city to run," Borkenhagen said.
After much back and forth on wording and a change from a motion to rescind, to a motion to amend, the council settled on working with the HRA to hire required staff and bring their proposal for a hiring process back to the city council.
Koep continued to seek clarification on the motion and ultimately was the only "no" vote on the measure, noting she felt the action was "absolutely contrary to how a public body ought to operate."
In other business, the council:
Approved a policy change to Brainerd & Crow Wing Public Transit. Free rides for children are no longer permitted at the request of Andy Stone, transit coordinator. In a memo to the council, Stone said the system is hitting capacity and callers often do not indicate how many children will accompany them.
"Upon boarding with children, dispatch has had to scramble to get buses to customers who no longer have an empty seat available," Stone wrote.
Discussed organized garbage collection as a possibility at the safety and public works committee with licensed collectors and decided to allow collectors time to develop suggestions. City officials pointed to wear on city streets and resident complaints about noise and frequency of pick up.
Eric Loge of Waste Partners spoke to the council, noting this is the third time he's talked to the city about how organized collection could negatively impact his business.
"The long term of this is bidding out," Loge said.
He added, "The wear and tear on your streets I believe will increase with organized collection."
Adopted a resolution ordering the improvement of 28th Street, approved plans and specifications and authorized the advertisement of bids with bids to be returned by 11 a.m. May 18. The total cost of the resurfacing project between Oak Street and Highway 25 is projected to be $568,000, of which $170,000 will be assessed to property owners and $52,050 will be charged to Oak Lawn Township. The total cost the city is estimated at $310,000.
The project will also include curb and gutter construction and an 8-foot bike and pedestrian lane.
Adopted a resolution to vacate Century Court, a cul-de-sac within the Brainerd Industrial Park. The city has a purchase agreement with an existing business in the park planning to build a distribution center, portions of which would be located over the cul-de-sac. Centerpoint Energy may charge the city $200 for abandoning the gas main on the street.
Amended an ordinance to correct inconsistencies in the notification method and time periods to abate nuisances. Previously, the ordinance required property owners to clean up properties within 14 days of notification but allowed a 30-day period for property owners to request a hearing. The amendment makes both 14 days.
Amended an ordinance to allow non-enclosed areas for dining and alcohol service at restaurants or bars. Although city ordinance technically did not allow this, Shep's on 6th has operated a patio for at least 15 years.
Approved a conditional use permit for the Riverside school additions and a variance for the Riverside school street side yard addition encroachment.
Received the March report from Police Chief Corky McQuiston. There were 1,494 calls during the month compared to 1,338 in March 2014. The department issued 283 citations, 91 of which were parking citations. There were 11 incidents requiring conduct on premises notices to landlords.
Agreed to make improvements to an alley next to BN Credit Union, 804 Laurel St. The city will pay half of the costs of repairs and will assess the other half to the business.
Agreed to assist a property owner on the 600 block of F Street with a sewer service upgrade. The resident purchased a home unaware the sewer needed replacing and later found out a lift station would be required. The city will pay the $3,200 in costs and will assess the costs to the property owner over five years.
Approved $3,000 of spending for training on design software for the engineering department.
Approved general fund transfers in the following amounts: $100,000 to the public safety fund; $40,000 to the park fund; $45,000 to the street and sewer fund; and $12,960 to the airport fund.
Chose not to waive statutory tort limits for the city. This means the city can be sued only up to $500,000 by an individual, rather than potentially up to $2 million. Not waiving the limit means the city will pay more for its insurance coverage.
Accepted the lowest quote for a roof insulation project in the parks and recreation building. Minnesota Spray-Foam Insulation of Baxter quoted the project at $25,986, nearly half of the $50,000 budgeted for the project. The remainder of the budgeted money will go into the capital fund.
Approved bid specifications for the transit service between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2018.
Approved a request from HRA to increase the number of its board members to seven, effective July 1.
Approved licenses for three contractors: Patton Built Construction, Chain of Lakes Builders & Remodelers and Dalo Construction.
Approved temporary liquor licenses for the VFW for an event scheduled for May 16 at the National Guard Armory and for the Crossing Arts Alliance for a May 8 event at the Franklin Art Center.
Approved a tobacco license for Electric Vapors, formerly Electric Vaporland, at a new location at 711 Laurel St.
Accepted donations for the School Patrol Safety Camp/Legionville 2014 totaling $11,570. The council also accepted the following donations for the first quarter to the city of Brainerd: $1,716.55 to the fire department; $17,300.87 to the parks and recreation department; $8,400 for Legionville; and $2,700 for a K9 stab resistant vest for the police department.
Called for applicants for the following committees: cable TV advisory; charter commission; economic development authority; and the rental dwelling board of appeals (one tenant and one general public representative).
Scheduled a May 12 workshop with the personnel and finance committee to discuss the city's salary administration plan, among other possible topics. The workshop will be 4 p.m.
Adjourned to closed session to discuss an accidental overpayment to Tom's Backhoe Service. The business is apparently refusing to pay the city back, claiming unanticipated work as part of its project. The city is deciding whether to pursue litigation.