After years of discussions, the Pequot Lakes City Council killed plans to improve North Sluetter Road.

Council member Mimi Swanson cast the only “no” vote Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Part of this road is in Pequot Lakes and part is in Loon Lake Township. Resident Maury Graham has frequented city council meetings over the past several years, pleading for the road to be paved and presenting a petition from others who live on the road.

The council received a feasibility report Tuesday, Feb. 4, from city engineer Widseth Smith Nolting engineering firm that included proposed North Sluetter Road improvement details for an estimated cost of $556,500.

Council member Scott Pederson said that report left him totally frustrated. A few years ago, residents simply asked to get a city road paved, which led to many discussions by residents, city staff and the council. Unofficial bids for much less than $556,000 were gathered and talk was to give the road a Rustic Road designation and to provide a Class 5 and blacktop surface, he said.

Last September, the council approved paving North Sluetter with that Rustic Road designation, and in December the council asked for a feasibility report.

“Where is the Rustic Road report that that motion was based on that got this rolling?” Pederson asked.

City Engineer Tim Houle acknowledged the report did not say “Rustic Road.” But he said cost estimates attempted to balance appropriate drainage needed in areas of the road and minimized clearing.

“Drainage is the difference and that’s the concern,” Houle said. “If you pave a road with assessment or city dollars, I think there’s a responsibility to ensure you have a good road bed, good drainage and it lasts.”

Had the council gone forward with the project, an assessment hearing possibly would have been scheduled with residents who live on the road to discuss potential costs. Pederson said he appreciated discussions and learning about the process to assess residents for road projects, but ultimately said he considered this a dead project.

The council agreed on the 4-1 vote.

Public safety

Firefighters had eight calls in December, including mutual aid structure canceled enroute to Crosslake, personal injury accident canceled enroute in Poplar Township, guest house structure fire in Moose Lake Township, assist vehicle accident in Breezy Point, mutual aid structure fire in Nisswa, fire alarm canceled enroute in Pequot Lakes, oven explosion with no gas leaks found in Pequot Lakes, and fire alarm in structure canceled enroute in Pequot Lakes.

The department had a total of 80 calls in 2019: 19 canceled enroute, 19 structure fires, 18 agency assists, eight gas leaks (propane or natural), five carbon monoxide detector going off, four grass/brush fire, three elevator rescue, two motor vehicle fires and one each smoke scare and auto extrication.

Calls in 2019 included 27 each to Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point, nine to Jenkins, three each to Poplar and Jenkins townships, two each to Moose Lake and Pelican townships and one to Loon Lake Township.

Agency assists included two each to Nisswa and Pine River, and one each to Crosslake and Mission Township.

Police had 250 calls for service in December, and 3,543 calls in all of 2019.

In other business Feb. 4, the council:

  • Amended a chapter in the city code creating the Patriot Development zoning classification, provisions for temporary commercial structures, new definitions and revising the land use matrix. The council had directed the planning commission to create zoning standards for the Heart of the Good Life development.

  • Learned a Patriot Avenue Redesign Team was created to look into the redesign of this road, which is the former two-lane Highway 371 through Pequot Lakes. The team’s first meeting was Wednesday, Feb. 5.

  • Approved the Crow Wing County joint powers agreement for inter-city emergency mutual aid.

  • Changed the regular March meeting from Tuesday, March 3, to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5, with Pederson opposed (he cannot attend). March 3 is the presidential nomination primary election and no public meetings can be held between 6-8 p.m. The council had difficulty finding an alternate date when all council members could attend and that city staff supported.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.