By Starrla Cray
WINSTED One year ago, the Winsted City Council made a list of 13 priorities for the city to work on in 2017. At the council meeting Jan. 16, City Administrator Dan Tienter shared the city’s progress, summarized below (in order of priority):
• Wastewater treatment facility improvements Construction is continuing, and the project is on schedule. As of mid-January, the Public Facilities Authority has reimbursed the city for about $2.839 million of eligible expenses.
• Winsted airport runway improvements A turf runway reconstruction is planned. The design phase is expected to begin this month.
• Hotel planning The draft hotel feasibility study update was released in October 2017. Initial investor meetings are expected to take place in February.
• Water quality on Winsted Lake In December, the council authorized the city engineer to prepare four best practices feasibility summaries for water quality improvements. The council also authorized collaboration between the city and the Winsted Lake Watershed Association for water quality efforts. A final report will likely be available in spring 2018.
• McLeod Avenue area improvements The council has opted to delay the larger project, but plans are being made for improvements to Industrial Boulevard.
• Downtown light poles In January, the council decided it would be more cost-efficient to replace, rather than refurbish, the downtown light poles. The project will wait until a larger road improvement project slated for after 2020.
• City website redevelopment Staff has met with GovOffice Solutions to discuss website components, and anticipate that the website will go live by summer 2018.
• Housing development The Economic Development Authority (EDA) has created a draft plan addressing several housing concerns. The plan emphasizes updating meaningful housing data and retention of senior citizens.
• Water tower rehabilitation In November 2017, the council authorized the city engineer to begin designing the project, at a design cost not to exceed $70,000.
• Parking lot rehabilitation This project was completed for the fire department and public works buildings in July.
• Generator installation Bids for this project will likely be released sometime this winter.
• Winsted Municipal Airport Commission Five new members were appointed to the newly reconstituted commission Jan. 2. They are currently working on scheduling their first meeting.
• Officer-worn body cameras The council opted to delay the potential purchase of body cameras until after the 2019 Legislative session, which may provide more funding or further policy guidance.
At Tuesday’s work session, the council discussed a 1965 Beech A23 airplane that has been stored at the Winsted Municipal Airport since at least 2010. Under city policy, the plane would not be allowed to park at the airport (except in a designated hangar) for more than 30 days. The city has attempted to contact the purported owner to advise them of the policy, but received no response.
The city formally took possession of the forfeited aircraft Dec. 14. City staff reviewed possible options for the aircraft, such as selling it, donating it, or salvaging parts.
The possible value of the plane, due to the need for repairs, is estimated to be no more than $2,000. Salvage companies the city contacted did not respond, according to City Administrator Dan Tienter. The idea of donating the plane was also explored, and Tienter contacted four colleges including Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). Staff from MCTC told the city that they would be interested in using the plane for teaching purposes in their aircraft maintenance training classes. MCTC has offered to remove the aircraft from the airport.
At the Tuesday, Feb. 6 city council meeting, the council plans to approve the donation as part of the consent agenda.
“It’s nice to see somebody else get some use out of it,” Mayor Steve Stotko said.
New home question
Also at the work session, Council Member Tom Ollig asked why Waverly has had such a high number of new homes being built recently. In 2017, Waverly issued 42 new home permits, which is higher than many other cities in the area.
Tienter said he is not sure about Waverly’s situation in particular, but in general, some cities had a large amount of improved land with utilities already connected before the recession. Since then, much of this land has been acquired by developers for “pennies on the dollar.”
Winsted does not have any of these types of developments, Tienter added, stating that although Winsted has some vacant lots, they are owned outright and are not being sold at a discount. As a result, communities like Winsted will likely have to wait for the lots in other communities to fill with houses before development extends to other areas.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• authorized a Public Facilities Authority (PFA) loan application for the water tower rehabilitation project.
• heard that the auditor was impressed by the City of Winsted’s claims reporting process, and plans to share the process with other schools and cities.
• heard that dog licenses are available at city hall for $10. All dogs ages 4 months and older are required to be licensed.
• approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for Holy Trinity Catholic Church spring dinner auction Saturday, April 14 at the Holy Trinity school gym.
• approved a temporary liquor license for the Winstock Country Music Festival (located at 230th St. in Winsted) Thursday, June 7 through Saturday, June 9. Also, an application to conduct off-site gambling (pull-tabs) during Winstock was approved for Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
• approved an application for the Lake Mary Homeowners Association to conduct excluded bingo Thursday, May 10 at the Blue Note Ballroom, 320 3rd St. S., contingent upon submission of all necessary documentation.
• accepted a contribution of $21,000 from gambling proceeds from the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department Relief Association, to be used for capital improvements for the fire department.
• approved an application for an exempt gambling permit for Ducks Unlimited to host a raffle at the Blue Note Ballroom Monday, April 9, contingent upon submission of all necessary documentation.