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Brod wants answers

By Staff | Jun 21, 2009

Blue Earth City Councilman Dan Brod wanted answers to three items he had asked be discussed at the council work session last Monday night.

In the end, he got a positive response from the rest of the council on two of the three.

Brod had asked to have discussion about Putnam Park, a need for a softball field at the 14th Street ball fields, and maintenance costs of the airport runway put on the agenda at the meeting on Monday.

Brod’s concerns about Putnam Park dealt with promises made to investors in the new swimming pool.

Specifically, Brod wanted to know why a picnic shelter that had been removed to make room for the pool had not been replaced.

He also questioned why bricks with names of persons and groups who made donations for the pool had not been installed.

“These people paid for these bricks, but they are still in storage,” Brod said.

Mayor Rob Hammond said no plan for installing the bricks had been developed. He also said the committee which raised the money for the pool had since dissolved.

Councilman John Huisman reported that the committee had raised $750,000 in pledges, and just over $700,000 had been collected.

“One business made a substantial pledge over several years, so they still have $43,000 coming in,” Huisman said.

He agreed the bricks need to be installed, but pointed out that the money which was raised for the pool was to go towards buying down the payment on the bonds by $75,000 per year. There were $2 million in bonds sold to finance the pool.

The council decided to have a joint meeting between the Pool Committee and the Parks Committee and discuss how and where the bricks could be installed, as well as the need for a picnic shelter.

Brod’s point on the softball field also received favorable responses from the other councilmen.

He pointed out that the council promised the softball association a new field would be built to replace the one removed to make room for the I-90 Go Kart Speedway at the fairgrounds.

“There is room to build it to the south of the existing one at 14th Street,” Brod said. “The backstop and dugouts are there, we just need to install a fence and lights.”

Brod said the current field is too small for adult softball.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord proposed they get quotes on the cost of installing the lights and fence and then consider adding it to the 2010 budget.

The rest of the council agreed.

Brod’s third item, maintenance of the proposed new airport runway did not get full council agreement.

Brod said he wanted a determination made of how much more maintenance expense would be necessary for the new runway and taxi-way.

City Engineer Bill Sayre said those numbers could be figured and he would bring them to the next meeting. Sayre also said the state participates in the responsibility of the maintenance, for mowing and snow removal.

The council, as well as several members of the public, entered into a debate on the need for the extension at all.

“I agree we need to resurface it, but I question why we need to expand it,” Brod said. “This is an optional project.”

Brod asked about having a public referendum on the project, and City Attorney David Frundt answered that the council is not required to hold one, but could do so if they desired. He added that the public cannot request one.

A pilot who uses the airport, Tony Zierke, was at the meeting and was asked for his opinion.

“The runway itself needs work – a big-time facelift,” he told the council. He reported damage to his airplane due to cracks in the asphalt.

“I think it needs to be blacktopped, not concrete,” he added. “The black color helps melt the snow in the winter.”

As far as the length of the runway, Zierke said that was up to the council, but “an extra 500 feet sure wouldn’t hurt.”

Councilman Rick Scholtes pointed out that just resurfacing the current runway will cost the city a lot for their share, while for a bit more they get resurfacing, extending the runway and building the taxiway.

“We only get this chance every 20 years, so we need to take advantage of it,” he said, referring to a waiting list for federal funds for airports.