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June 5, 2020

5/15/2020 10:18:00 AM
Center City feeling stresses of pandemic

Center City Council and staff met in person in regular session last week keeping several feet between each other and the city attorney was available by speaker phone.  

Council was advised that an employee had been ill recently and there was a half-hour discussion about  measures or “protocol” should anybody on staff fall ill.

The employee was convinced coronavirus covid-19 did not cause the symptoms, but there was no test to ascertain this.  Council directed staff that they must get tested if another bout with any fever, cough, intestinal distress, etc. should occur.  For the time being all health plans are authorizing eligible covid-19 tests at no charge and there is a testing base at St Croix Regional Medical Center, just a few miles from Center City.

The small number of staff in Center City makes it imperative testing be done, council added.  The actual test may be done while the employee is on city time.  And, for now,  there will be no special wage allowance for quarantine.  The issue of pay during isolation, when warranted based on a test, was discussed and council opted for it to remain covered under current policy using Personal Time Off hours and comp/sick time.

Council also spent considerable time reviewing the merits of creating a “public works committee” on suggestion of Council member Jill Behnke.  

The committee would consist of the usual two council persons (to avoid a quorum) who would meet with Public Works Supt. Eric Garner, on plans he has for infrastructure and maintenance needs.  Garner commented that he’d find it helpful to run ideas past a smaller committee and get feedback before he has to develop a full blown proposal for city council.

Mayor Mark Wolcott responded that the public works committee has been tried and “...was intentionally done away with” when politics interfered in the past.  The committee would review a project and get fully behind it and by the time it came before the full council an objective review was not possible. Mayor Wolcott and the other council members commented that there is time on agendas for Garner to bring his wish list to a regular council session and involve everybody from the start.  Council member Madonna Higgins said Garner can e mail a list of high priority items he’s seen around town that need addressing and council can visit the sites and research the concerns on their own time about suggested projects.  

There will be discussion at council meetings about these items.  

Garner later shared his hopes to A: pave the drive to the lift station on 318th so it can be plowed in winter and workers don’t have to trudge through snowbanks to access the unit. This is estimated around $3,000. And B: to crack seal and do regular repair on Per Road and the Bayview-city hall parking lot.  

Garner also needs to install a deck/path that was donated for use near the city docks, that will better direct boaters to use a crosswalk over the county road.  He first wants to sandblast and paint its surface.

Mayor Wolcott asked if there is a plan that includes painting parking stripes and crosswalk in the downtown?  He added that the virus shutdown has left the main street empty and now would be ideal for re-painting.

Council also opted out of an idea to extend the sewer and water service(stubs) to the east side of the highway 8 and Pleasant Valley Road area.  It was thought the stubs for easy hook-up to services could go in as the road is now torn-up for the round-about on the highway under construction.  Council agreed the development need just isn’t imminent heading towards Shafer, so the estimate of $40,000 from the engineer was set aside.

And, council wanted to extend a public Thank You to Plastic Products Company Inc. in Lindstrom for donating covers for Center City streetlights.  The lens covers had yellowed noticeably making the streetlights an amber color and greatly decreasing the lumen power-- and Plastic Products fashioned crystal clear replacements.

The Sentence to Serve crew from the county jail also got a shout-out for the terrific painting job done inside the public works shop.

No news on the Calendar Isle road turnover request.  City council members asked for the private street and storm water systems to be brought up to city standards before Center City would accept the area as public  High spring water has hampered the engineering analysis of the culvert.

A meeting of the Ordinance Committee with the city attorney was set for May 20 at 9 a.m.

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