Chatfield City Council addresses several street, sidewalk concerns

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The Chatfield City Council had several items to manage during its Monday, Nov. 26 meeting, beginning with an update from the city engineer.

Matt Mohs, of WSB, serves as the city engineer and spoke about the final payment for the work done to create Enterprise Drive, formerly Industrial Drive.

He recommended that final payment of $10,000 be made to the contractor on the completed work, then pointed out the project came in under budget. The original contract with Edge Contracting was $739,127.10, the revised contract came in at $765,502.10, and the completed work ultimately cost $706,128.87 before the final payment was figured in. The councilors voted to approve the final payment.

The sidewalk along Highway 52, on the west side of the roadway, came up next. There have been some frustrations vented to the council’s public works committee about how the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) had plotted the sidewalk too close to some trees on residential property, resulting in those trees theoretically being removed.

Also, Dan Hollermann, owner of Computer Danamics, had brought his concerns to the council about how, just a decade ago, he’d put in a driveway in front of his business that complied with specifications given him by MNDOT at that time. He is now being asked to overhaul his driveway for the sidewalk on the 2019 Highway 52 project, which includes sidewalk from the Highway 30 intersection north, mirroring the sidewalk that was installed on the east side of the roadway.

Hollermann objects to the sidewalk’s installation because it could make his driveway steeper than it already is, but if it must be put in, he would like to see it built to the north city limits, currently at the Chatfield Auto dealership.

City Clerk Joel Young explained that the resident whose trees were in danger of removal was worried, with the trees being taken out, his home would be subject to increased noise and light from highway traffic. Young noted MNDOT had taken the complaint under advisement and redesigned the sidewalk to prevent invasion of the homeowner’s privacy.

Councilor Paul Novotny remarked that efforts should be made to install sidewalk without disrupting homeowner privacy or causing business owners to have to deal with uprooted utilities and oddly-shaped driveways.

Councilor Mike Urban agreed, adding snow storage on the residential property’s frontage was his concern.

Councilor Josh Broadwater said he thought placing the sidewalk right up against the pine tree in question could cause some problems, but he felt the homeowner would properly maintain the tree so that it wouldn’t reach out and attack pedestrians.

Councilor John McBroom commented, “If you look at the sidewalk on the east, there’s not a big buffer zone, and my nephew here (referring to Urban) is a prime example of why a person who’s handicapped and uses a wheelchair has no possible way to get across the street. I’d like MNDOT to take another look at this.”

Novotny spoke up, “Just being devil’s advocate, but what if we paid for the sidewalk from Cabin Coffee down?”

Mayor Russ Smith observed that doing such would be like the agreement the city has with MNDOT for the streetlights that will be put in downtown at the project’s completion — MNDOT will help pay for the lights only if they shine down onto the street — and that the department’s specifications would limit the sidewalk in this case.

Broadwater registered, “I would rather not see us putting sidewalk in, from a city standpoint.”

Novotny acknowledged Hollermann’s perspective. “Computer Danamics put in an access to specs and ten years later, MNDOT wants it different.”

Smith related that he’d heard MNDOT’s engineering dilemma with moving the sidewalk out from the parking lot, namely that it would incur a steep approach with a flat landing and another rise to navigate.

“From the letters I’ve seen, Dan would like to have the sidewalk up close to his parking lot.” Urban then made a motion to send a letter from the city to MNDOT to have them re-examine the possibilities for the sidewalk’s placement. His motion was accepted and passed.

Fee schedule

The city’s fee schedule has come up for review, and Young shared that primarily, the fees being considered include admission to the new municipal swimming pool and public works fees such as street excavation deposits for water main repairs.

The proposal for a family pass to the new pool would be $150 instead of the originally cited $125 per season, individuals would be charged $85 per season, single daily admission would be $7, and evening admission would be $4. Nuisance fees such as damage to trees and flora would increase from $50 to $100, tampering with a water meter would result in a $100 fine, towing a vehicle from city property would stand at $150, and street excavation deposits could be increased from $500 to $1,200 as suggested during the public works meeting.

Residents carrying out cleanup following a sewer backup not caused by their own actions but also not by the city’s negligence was one matter that needed to be included in the listing, as Young stated funds should be available for that but capped at $22 per hour, or a total of $3,000, as directed by the state.

“With wipes being flushed into the pipes, there have been more backups,” Young said. “People want to get paid for their labor in the cleanup if they do it themselves — we recognize self-performance and need to limit how much they charge per hour to $22.”

Other business

The council approved a pay estimate from pool contractor Ricchio for $58,804.

City maintenance supervisor Brian Burkholder commended water supervisor Ryan Priebe for his efforts that have contributed to Chatfield once again receiving the Minnesota Rural Water Association’s (MRWA) Water Fluoridation Quality Award.

The Council authorized city administration to advertise for a new ambulance director to replace current director Sue Kester upon her retirement on April 1, 2019.

The Council adjusted the way vacation and comp time is accrued so individuals such as firefighters — who are paid but not allowed to receive those benefits from the city — do not register in the bi-weekly payroll system and cause hours of extra clerical work that addresses income taxation of those benefits.

At the meeting’s close, Urban reminded residents to keep an eye on the forecast and their car keys in hand in case of the city’s need to plow streets. “I’d like to remind people that with the snow flying, they need to clear their sidewalks and get their cars off the streets,” he said.