The Pequot Lakes Park Commission will take the lead to revamp a Trailside Park project, the city council decided at its meeting Tuesday, March 5.

The council directed the park commission to redesign the project plan, focusing on a splash pad and state flag display because city has donations for those amenities.

Council member Jerry Akerson was absent from the meeting.

Park commission chair Dan Ronning asked the council for direction, saying the Trailside Park project was stagnant and suggesting improvements be started this summer. He said the city should use the donated money.

The city received anonymous donations several years ago of $100,000 toward a splash pad and $150,000 toward a flag display at Trailside Park. Plus the city has received an additional $15,000 in donations for the splash pad.

A much larger Trailside Park improvement project became controversial last year because of the cost and a proposal to rip up a portion of Patriot Avenue for the park. The council in November voted to scale back the project by just focusing on using the splash pad and flag display donations.

Public safety

Firefighter awards were presented at the fire department's annual party, according to that department's meeting minutes. Receiving awards were Trevor Lang, Firefighter of the Year; Dalton Engholm and Nate Schwankl, joint Rookie of the Year; Bob Peterson, most fire calls of the year; Dave Szymanski, 25-year service pin; Kate Petersen, 10-year service pin; and Travis Jacobus and Jake Cameron, five-year service pins.

The fire department received authorization to build a storage room addition for $3,000. Firefighters will build the addition.

The fire department's annual report listed 63 fire calls in 2018. That compares to 84 calls in 2017. Calls last year included 20 structure fires, 16 detector malfunctions, seven assist police, seven grass/brush fires, four outdoor fires, three motor vehicle fires, three natural gas/propane leaks, two medical assist and two public service assistance.

By location, Pequot Lakes had 20 calls; Breezy Point, 10; Jenkins, eight; Loon Lake Township, six; Jenkins Township, three; and Poplar and Pelican townships, one each.

The department had 14 mutual aid calls: five each to Nisswa and Ideal Township, two to Pine River and one each to Crosslake and Wadena County.

For the police department, the council accepted a grant from Sourcewell for $2,500 for a LUCAS CPR device, a lifesaving tool, and approved buying the device for $16,221 to be paid for with the grant, donations and forfeiture funds.

Police reported 208 calls for service in January.

Mayor James Tayloe and council members Scott Pederson and Cheri Seils toured the police and fire departments before the regular meeting.

In other business March 5, the council:

• Heard from Bill Brekken, Crow Wing County commissioner for District 2, who introduced himself to the council and said he's open to working with the city any way he can.

• Approved an ordinance amendment to create a residential-golf course community overlay district to include a 27.02-acre parcel on Little Walnut Drive to allow a higher density in a specific area next to the Preserve Golf Course where a developer plans to build a planned unit development.

• Approved an ordinance amendment regarding exterior storage.

• Approved an ordinance amendment regarding zoning district provisions and overlay districts. When the short-term rental ordinance was approved, the statement regarding four leases per year should have been stricken.

• Agreed to host an open house at the new public works facility for the public to tour.

• Learned the city received a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Wastewater Treatment Facility Operation Award.

• Acknowledged Karen Bryan's resignation from the park commission and appointed Patrick Churack to fulfill the term through this year. The council also appointed Kim Churack to an open seat on the park commission through 2021.

• Indicated it may approve a $1 per month gas service franchise fee with Xcel Energy, meaning Minnesota Power and Crow Wing Power would also have to pay that fee. City Administrator Nancy Malecha reported that Baxter is the only area city that charges a gas franchise fee.

Council member Mimi Swanson suggested the revenue go to the park commission for one year.