City Council discusses summer street improvements, snow removal

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Chatfield News

Summer road construction garnered attention during the Monday, Feb. 25, Chatfield City Council meeting, even as the city’s maintenance crew spent their day looking for places to put the mountains of snow removed from the streets.

Chatfield’s Main Street, concurrent with Highway 52, will undergo an overhaul this summer, and the councilors handled a construction agreement and a traffic signal resolution that will make way for the project to move forward.

Plans are in place to change the traffic lanes, replace the stoplights, replace the existing sidewalks and address handicapped accessibility, beginning in late spring and ending by late summer.

Councilors Mike Urban and Josh Broadwater made the motions to approve the separate items on the agenda, and the council obliged with a vote in favor.

Other summer business encompassed a committee of the whole (COW) meeting held before the city council meeting, with plans made to coordinate various municipal swimming pool construction items and logistics with Burbach Aquatics and the city’s pool manager. Further meetings will offer more information on what has been decided regarding the ideas and questions about the pool itself and its operations.

Broadwater and Councilor John McBroom offered the motions to pay Ricchio Construction the $86,232 it requested for work done on the pool bathhouse.

Next, a revised zoning ordinance and a tree ordinance received votes to publish after a second reading of each, and the city’s administrative code underwent a first reading during the meeting.

Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox came before the council to ask permission to eventually advertise for replacement officers, as two have submitted their resignations due to obligations as they work for other departments.

A memorandum of understanding related to negotiations with the Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) police union for benefits that had yet to be extended to union employees was passed, and the council went on to grant an additional one percent pay increase to total four percent when added to the three percent already included in the year’s raises, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019.

Ambulance personnel will be changing soon, as Rocky Burnett is the new ambulance director studying what he has left to learn from longtime Chatfield ambulance director Sue Kester. Burnett has left his post as ambulance support, and the city reviewed the possibilities that his mobility created. Councilors determined that creating an assistant ambulance director’s position might prove itself useful. City office employee Nancy Timm has been working part-time and used to be the city’s ambulance support personnel, replaced a few years ago in that role by Burnett. The council determined that the lateral move for Timm would be a half-time position with responsibilities somewhat greater than the ambulance support position.

Chatfield’s trailer park’s delinquent utility bills are to be assessed to the property as the park is sold to a new owner — with the goal, according to City Clerk Joel Young, of having a fresh start with the new owner. A water meter agreement was also discussed, as water meters will be installed at each residence and a billing method determined. Both measures were passed by the council.

Mayor Russ Smith, an employee of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT), told about how his experience driving snowplow has pressed him to remind motorists that snowplows stay ahead of people for a good reason. “The snow is piling up and there’s a lot that needs to be removed by the city crew, so have a little patience because there’s a lot of snow,” he said. “It’s incredible how when I was plowing this afternoon…how many people think they need to pass the plow, and when they do, I just think, ‘See you in the ditch.’ That plow’s ahead of you for a reason, and it’s best to stay behind and let them get their job done.”

Young then asked the council to approve the temporary and emergency hiring of former city crew employees to assist with citywide snow removal, and the councilors agreed that would make sense.

Young said, “With all the snow, the public works people have done a tremendous job.”

Urban stated, “We want to thank them for their service and for those people who have helped them get the job done.”

The councilor went on to express his appreciation to the ambulance, fire and police for their dedication to their jobs as they dealt with blizzard conditions and emergencies arising from such.

“The police, fire and EMS had a crazy weekend, and I heard that at one point, they were out darn near 24 hours and didn’t miss a beat,” Urban said.

McBroom added, “The hours those guys logged was crazy. Take extra precautions at intersections so that you’re not t-boned, keep your gas meters cleared and the fire hydrants cleared away so that if you have a fire, the fire department can find it and get to your house faster.”