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County delays opening parks on split vote

By Staff | Apr 12, 2020

The opening of the two county parks, Pihls Park and Woods Lake Park, will be delayed until May 15 following action taken by the Faribault County Board at their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 7.

“I would like to see an exception made for seasonal campers to get in by the normal May 1 date,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz stated.

While commissioner John Roper agreed with Groskreutz, commissioner Greg Young offered a different opinion.

“I think we need to be fair and consistent for everybody,” Young stated. “So I support the May 15 date.”

Public Works director Mark Daly told the commissioners Martin County had decided to delay the opening of their county parks and Blue Earth County was also considering not opening their parks as soon as they normally do.

County attorney Kathryn Karjala mentioned the feeling was Governor Walz was probably going to extend the stay at home order, which was due to expire on April 10.

“Let’s see what Governor Walz does and if he extends the stay at home directive,” board chairman Tom Warmka said. “If things improve we can address this issue at the next meeting and decide to open the parks sooner.”

The commissioners voted by a 3-2 margin to delay the opening of the county parks until May 15 with Groskreutz and Roper voting against the motion.

Staying on the subject of the county parks, Daly told the board he has learned the parks are not required to have a storm shelter at the parks.

This led to discussion on what to do with the house located at Pihls Park.

“Is it OK to proceed with burning the house?” Daly inquired.

The possibility of using the house as a storm shelter was raised by Groskreutz.

“Just because we are not required to have one doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have one,” Groskreutz told the board.

Through discussion the board learned the emergency sirens from nearby towns cannot be heard at the parks, but if a member of the Sheriff’s Department is in the area, he will drive through the park and alert the campers.

“If we were to build a storm shelter, then the rates would need to reflect the extra cost,” commissioner Loveall offered.

The board decided to table the decision to burn down the house and instructed Daly to gather some cost estimates on turning the basement of the house into a storm shelter.

Also on the agenda were three bids involving roads within the county.

“Ulland Brothers submitted a bid of $2,918,504.50 for the county’s share of the Leland Parkway project in Blue Earth,” Daly told the commissioners. “The bid was higher than the engineer’s estimate of $2,737,372.58 and substantially higher than the budgeted amount of $2,490,275.”

During public comment the possibility of using concrete instead of bituminous material was raised.

“Concrete would be nice but it carries a higher initial cost,” Loveall said. “Either surface can fail but the cost of repairing a bituminous surface is much less than repairing a concrete road.”

The higher cost of concrete, coupled with the fact the Blue Earth City Council had approved a bid the previous evening for a bituminous surface for their share of the road, led the commissioners to approve the bid from Ulland brothers for the bituminous surface.

The next bid presented by Daly was for seal coat oil.

“The low bid from HG Meigs of $231,990 is about $68,000 lower than the budgeted amount,” Daly explained. “It appears to be due to the cost of the product being $418 per ton this year compared to $491.99 per ton last year.”

The board voted to accept the bid from HG?Meigs.

The last bid Daly brought before the board was for striping.

“The two bids were only $160 apart,” Daly commented. “Both companies, AAA Striping and Traffic Marking Service, have done work for us in the past. Both bids were under the budgeted amount of $90,000.”

A motion was passed to accept the bid from AAA Striping in the amount of $83,832.

Central Services director Lexi Scholten was also at the meeting and presented a resolution regarding layoffs of county employees.

The board passed the resolution which directs the Central Services director to issue provisional layoff notices to the following four employees; two license bureau secretaries, the planning and zoning administrative assistant and the extension secretary.

The resolution also states the provisional notice will be revoked, or the employee will be recalled from layoff status, upon work becoming available to the employee to complete from home or upon the granting of non-critical workers being able to return to work, whichever comes first.

During committee reports Warmka reported EMS (Emergency Medical Services) has gotten clearance for civilian drivers to drive ambulances while the county is under the emergency status caused by the pandemic. Warmka added fireman are the people who have been approached to drive an ambulance should the need arise.

The board also:

Approved the request of Brady Rauenhorst, who works in the county appraisers office, to take an online class on general appraiser income approach.