Council approves bid for industrial park expansion

David Phillips

The Spring Valley City Council approved a bid for work enabling industrial park expansion during its regular meeting on Monday, July 8.

The council accepted the low bid of $1.17 million from Kuechle Underground, Inc., located in Kimball, Minnesota, for the industrial park project. The bid, one of seven received by the city, was $16,906 above the engineer’s estimate. The other bids ranged up to $1.32 million.

The bid for work on street, sanitary sewer, water main and storm sewer construction will allow the industrial park to expand. AMD Distribution and Kappers Fabricating, Inc., already have plans to expand their businesses while several new lots will become accessible for other businesses once the project is done.

The city received a grant of $608,966 from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for the project. City administrator Deb Zimmer said Spring Valley Public Utilities will fund about $200,000 of the project. The remaining $500,000 will come from city funds — $320,000 is in an industrial park fund while the rest was set aside last year in a capital project fund once the city was notified of the state grant.

Moving the piles of dirt in the area is also part of the bid, Zimmer noted. The project will start this year and run through next year.

“The only thing we are asking is that the underground work be done this year and the blacktopping be done next year,” said Zimmer. “They could start now or as late as this fall.”

The council accepted the bid on a 4-0 vote. Councilor Mike Hadland was not present at the meeting.

Spring Valley Living expansion

The council also took action to allow expansion at the Spring Valley Living campus.

Spring Valley Living uses the city’s authority to issue a tax-exempt revenue bond for the facility. The city’s cost for issuing the bond is expected to be about $17,000, but the facility asked to pay back the city just $10,000. Chief Executive Officer Penny Solberg stated in a letter to the city that “any monies saved in this part of the process will be directly put into the project and the programming.”

The facility is going to add on a memory care unit, Mayor Tony Archer said. The facility is also planning to add a transitional care unit off to the side to provide more private rooms, he said.

Archer pointed out that there is a demand for private rooms, instead of shared rooms, in facilities throughout the region while there is always a need for memory care units.

The council agreed to reduce the fee to $10,000 on a unanimous vote.

Home business gets permit

The council approved a conditional use permit for Dorothy and Scott Holland to operate a greenhouse business from their home on 525 North Section Avenue. Approval for the permit was recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission, which held a public hearing June 26.

The Hollands will be selling garden produce out of the garage, which once served as an electrical shop for Gordy Mosher.  Most of what they sell is at farmers’ markets, but they wanted the opportunity to sell some items out of their home to local residents.

The permit has several conditions, including limits on the sign, no commercial delivery and hours limited to 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Yard complaint

In the visitors’ portion of the agenda, Jolene Wiebrand, speaking about the conditions of the yard on 315 East Avenue, said she had called Zimmer a few weeks ago after the previous occupant moved out to complain about the grass being so tall. The new occupant mowed the grass, but left a pile of grass and failed to do any trimming, she told the council last week.

Also, debris was thrown out a window, attracting mice and rats, she said, adding that people visiting her house saw snakes coming out of the yard.

Zimmer has helped her out with some of the problems that have been going on, but she said, “I’m hoping somebody else can get up there and do something with the yard the way it is now.”

Wiebrand also had video evidence, but the council didn’t request to review it. Zimmer said city attorney Lee Bjorndal would be in her office the next day and they planned to look at the property.

Wiebrand also cited structural and other problems with the house. “Nobody should even live in that house,” she said.

Mayor Tony Archer thanked her for bringing the situation to the attention of the council, noting that the city will have a better understanding of what to do after the city attorney reviews it.

SMIF presentation

Alissa Oeltjenbruns of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) gave an update on the foundation. She thanked the council for its support over the years since everything SMIF does throughout the 20-county region is made possible by contributors such as the city.

She added that SMIF tries to be “good stewards of your dollars,” noting that for every dollar contributed in Fillmore County, SMIF puts $32 back into communities in Fillmore County.

“We’re really proud of that,” she said, adding that Spring Valley, especially Zimmer, has done a great job “harnessing a lot of our resources.”

SMIF is a fiscal resource for the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation, taking care of all the legal paperwork so “your local volunteers can really focus on making a difference in your community.” SMIF works with six community foundations in the county and has contributed more than $150,000 through services and funds in the last three years to those organizations.

One area SMIF focuses on is economic development. Spring Valley is partnering with Lanesboro in the Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) initiative. Spring Valley is about halfway through the three-year pilot REV program of SMIF.

Rather than trying to draw new entrepreneurs or big companies into the community, this program is “stepping back a bit and looking at who do we currently have in our community and how can we make sure they are getting the resources that they need to be successful.”

Spring Valley’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) received funds for a business incubator and acceleration program. These types of programs are really taking off in the 20-county region, Oeltjenbruns said.

The childcare shortage is another issue that has been prevalent throughout the region and state. SMIF offers a number of different types of assistance, even to home-based providers, who perhaps don’t think of themselves as businesses, Oeltjenbruns noted.

SMIF also provided more than 300 books to the local school district as part of its early literacy program so children can take them home and start their own library.

The city annually makes a contribution of $1,500 to SMIF. Zimmer told the council she got a letter with a request for $2,000 next year. The council will discuss that when putting together its budget this fall.

Other business

• Approval was given to the payment of $398,598 to Elcor Construction for the $4.94 million 2018 street and utility improvement project on Washington Avenue and High Street. There is a proposed reduction of payment for approximately 54 days liquidated damages due to delays, Zimmer noted, and she will be meeting with the company next week to discuss this issue since there was some work done during those days in question. If a satisfactory agreement isn’t reached, the matter could go to court.

• In commissioner reports, Archer reported on the EDA meeting, which was attended by new economic development director Chris Hahn, who made a presentation about creating a mission statement, which the EDA had already formed. He said Hahn will come to a City Council meeting to present as well. Archer said it is important for all of them to “be on the same page, going toward the same vision, the same mission” to move forward for the next generation.

• The EDA also discussed the size of the board, said Archer, as the city is required to have two City Council representatives and Archer is the only one at this time. Councilor Chris Danielson had volunteered, but that means one EDA member would have to step off or the board would have to expand to seven members. Archer said he was concerned that if it went to seven, the city may not always find enough volunteers to keep it at seven, although it if remained at five, one of the members, all who have served a long time, would have to quit. A public hearing is required if any change is made. He asked the councilors to think about these options.

• Danielson, who also attended the EDA meeting, said Hahn is outgoing and has a lot of ideas. Although the mission is important, she noted that there are a lot of day-to-day issues that need to be dealt with as well.

• In the administrator’s report, Zimmer said the city has planned for another squad car, but there has been some discussion whether two Tahoes need to be sitting at the street facility when not in use. One of the three deputies is moving to Spring Valley and will likely take his vehicle to his home if approved by the council, but the other two aren’t planning to live in the city. Zimmer, who had just received the estimate for a new unit, said she wanted the council to think about options before she puts it on the agenda for the next meeting.

• In council reports, John Dols expressed appreciation for everyone that pitched in to help Fins and Films, an event the previous weekend that brought a lot of people to Spring Valley.

• In the mayor’s report, Archer said he heard only positive comments about the Fins and Films festival and looks forward to it next year. He said that even with the rain Friday, there was good attendance at the concert. He also commented that there was a good showing downtown Saturday. He was asked to make a mayor’s choice award, which went to the car of Steve Atwood of Spring Valley.