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BE to add airport work to project list

By Staff | May 10, 2020

Construction work has already started on the Sailor Street project on the east side of Blue Earth. Also scheduled is Leland Parkway and the runways and other areas at the airport.

During their meeting last Monday night, the Blue Earth City Council voted to accept bids and move forward with several projects for this summer at the Blue Earth Municipal Airport.

The projects include runway and approach concrete repair, and a new snowblower for a new tractor at the airport.

There were three bids received for the concrete crack repair and panel replacement for the runway and the parallel connecting taxiway and approaches.

The lowest bid was from Hoffman Concrete and was $161,387. With other costs, including engineering fees, added in, the total came to $191,387.

Low bid for the snowblower came from RDO Equipment at $24,183. With other costs added in, the total became $34,183.

The grand total of the two parts of the airport project came to $225,570.

The good news, said Ron Roetzel, engineer with Bolton & Menk, the city’s engineering firm, is that there will be no cost to the city.

“Usually the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) picks up most of the cost and the local share is between five and 10 percent,” Roetzel told the council. “But, because of the 2020 Federal Cares Act, the FAA is going to cover all the cost of this project.”

The city can use all of the federal funds they will receive this year, $150,000, and will borrow federal funds from a neighboring airport to pay the rest of the project cost.

Those borrowed funds will be paid back with next year’s FAA $150,000 for the Blue Earth Airport.

The council decided it made sense to do it this way in order to complete the work when the FAA would fund the whole project. The other option was to cut back on the scope of the project to save costs, and do the rest of the work in another year. Doing it all this year will save the city at least $6,000.

Roetzel explained the need for the work to be done at all.

“We did the concrete work for the runway back in 2010 and 2011,” Roetzel said. “After 10 years it is time to do some maintenance and repair to the runway and other areas. It could wait another year if needed, but it does need to be done soon.”

In other business at the meeting on Monday night, the council:

Decided to open up the playground equipment and picnic areas at the city parks which have been fenced off for several weeks.

There was some discussion about doing it or not, and the vote to do so was 6 to 1. Some council members thought it should be up to parents to let their kids play there or not, while one thought if it was closed before it should stay that way until the governor lifts the Stay at Home order.

The council also decided to continue with hiring summer workers at the pool and for the Public Works Department. They also instructed the Public Works Department to get the pool ready for the summer, but did not make any determination when the pool will actually open.

Voted to allow all of the city’s committees, such as the Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and Economic Development Authority (EDA), and others, to begin meeting again, either in person or via virtual meetings, so long as social distancing and other safety protocols are used.

Discussed inviting a representative from Seneca to the next council meeting to discuss what precautions Seneca would be putting in place once canning production starts later this summer.

Council members said they did not want the same kind of situation as has happened at meat production facilities in southwest Minnesota.

After some discussion, voted to remove one liquor store employee title from a union contract, and just go with the title liquor store clerk, and to raise the wage for that position $13.55 per hour to $15 per hour.

They also voted to decrease the hours the store is open.

Discussed a tax increment financing (TIF) or tax abatement plan to help with the construction of new housing units in the city.

Mayor Rick Scholtes and city administrator Kim Moore attended the County Board meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the county’s possible involvement in the tax abatement.

Learned another chick-en permit had been issued, this one to the person who first had chickens and spurred the council to create the chicken ordinance.

Also discussed a request from a resident to keep her ’emotional support’ chicken in her back yard without getting a permit. The person has a letter from her doctor concerning the chicken.

City attorney David Frundt said there was not anything in the city ordinance which covers emotional support chickens, but it could be added.

The council debated what to do about any type of emotional support animal but instructed city staff to investigate the matter further.

Granted a garbage hauling license to Hanson Sanitation of Kasota.