All members of the Ostrander City Council were in attendance on July 3 for a regular meeting (Vernon Thompson, Pam Kunert, Mayor Pat Nesler, City Clerk Wendy Brincks, Heidi Jones and DJ Start). Heidi Jones addressed the council regarding her candidacy for Fillmore County Auditor/Treasurer.
Brian Malm (representing the engineering firm of Bolton & Menk) said Ostrander received a letter from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) which explained that Ostrander will have to start treating for nitrogen. Malm said this is not something Ostrander has been required to do before, so the current treatment plant is not capable of this, saying, “Your existing facility is not set up to treat for nitrogen… That’s bad news, because it was the one piece of infrastructure that didn’t need to be upgraded.” He had drafted a response letter to the MPCA, and asked the council to direct him whether to send it, or to request more time. The letter states that because the current treatment plant is only about 15 years old and will not be paid off until 2043, it would be a considerable financial hardship for Ostrander to rebuild the plant now. Malm said he “would be shocked” if MPCA changes their mind about requiring the city to treat for nitrogen, but he hopes the letter would “set the stage” for MPCA to allow Ostrander more time to comply, and he hopes MPCA will see Ostrander’s financial bind, and perhaps help find grant possibilities. The council voted to have Malm send the letter he drafted.
Wendy Brincks brought up a zoning issue, saying, “We are required to zone the northeast portion of Ostrander, that wasn’t zoned before.” The council discussed the issue, and a proposed resolution will be presented at the next meeting. The council also considered Zoning and Data Practices as submitted by City Attorney Jennifer Gumbel.
The council approved two pay estimates regarding the ongoing infrastructure project (just over $568,000 to A-1 Excavating, and just under $110,000 to Wabasha Construction). The council also approved a Change Order of slightly over $44,000 for the project. Malm summarized that the project is slightly ahead of schedule.
Rick Whitney (Peopleservices) addressed the council about the dissatisfaction that some council members have voiced with Peopleservices. The council chose to work on setting up a special meeting between Peopleservices staff and the council, at a date to be determined.
Fire Chief Dustin Johnson said the fire department is still working on obtaining a newer and larger used pumper truck, for approximately $40,000. There was discussion of possible ways the department could help fundraise for the purchase, since there is not that amount available in the budget. One idea was for the city to sell the police car previously used by Officer Mosher. The sheriff’s department would most likely take some of the equipment from the car before it would be sold. This will be looked into.
The council also discussed use of UTVs within the city. Council members said regardless of what the various vehicles are called (four-wheelers, ATVs, UTVs, golf carts) there are concerns about how these vehicles are used within the city and who is driving them, with council members saying some children clearly younger than 14 are seen driving in town. Deputy Leif Erickson said, “There’s different classes of ATVs”… it’s basically up to what council wants to allow… All ATVs have to be registered with the state.” He suggested the council could consider requiring a yearly permit to drive it within town, and he suggested amending the current ordinance to spell out whatever the council decides, including penalties for not complying with the ordinance. No action was taken at this time.
Deputy Leif Erickson submitted a written monthly report of police activity provided to Ostrander by the Fillmore County Sheriff’s department. He summarized that there were 11 calls total for month. He also said that regarding his ongoing efforts at dealing with vehicles with expired tabs, only three renewed, so, “there’s going to be a ton of citations” in the near future. Council members and citizens brought up a safety concern regarding motorists driving too fast in town, especially near the intersection of Minnesota and South streets. The next regular meeting of the city council will be August 7 at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome.