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November 30, 2021

10/15/2021 10:52:00 AM
Center City tables street vacation, talks non-readable water meters

A couple of repeat agenda items took up the majority of the two-hour meeting of the Center City Council last week. Action on vacating a city street and a request from the Calendar Isle homeowners association to transfer their private infrastructure to the city system again ignited extended discussions with no resolution.

Council tabled action on  authorizing the vacation of Lake Street, that traverses private parcels in an area near the Government Center.

There needs to be a public benefit to approve a vacation of city owned land, and council did not support the 25 foot “swap’ being proposed.  The 25 feet is potentially a gift (dedication) from the landowner back to the city as a strip of property along a second street right-of-way. Council preferred 40 feet to increase the size of the First Street public corridor, alongside the Niemecycski site, as access to North Center Lake. The public benefit is that people may continue to use this wider land strip to access the lake.

 The city is asked to give up Lake Street right-of-way which is 50 feet and 100 some feet long. Council member Mark Wolcott commented that getting 50 feet instead of 40 would be most fair.  Council member Ryan Pease added that there’s lots of lake front for the new lots,  even fitting in 40 feet alongside what the First St right-of-way.  Council member Donna Higgins noted the Dept. of Natural Resources letter that stressed the city should be all about retaining public lake access.

The agenda resolution cited 25 feet, though,  and council members questioned how that was arrived at. Mayor Jill Behnke championed the 25 foot and she was the lone no vote to delay action.  

Council awaits the land owner and staff drafting a new vacation resolution and generating detailed drawings of the new plat and a legal description of where the dedicated 40 feet are.

The Calendar Isle Homeowner Association issues are equally complex.  The development from the early 1980s includes a private road, bridge and stormwater system, and are being proposed to become municipal responsibility.  

Council member Lloyd Vetter asked out-loud,  why the city would even express an interest in pursuing this?  He observed the property owners entered into contracts and bought property well aware the area is “private.”

Council member Wolcott added that the private development was approved, with less than city-standard streets and drainage because they weren’t city liabilities. The developer also was granted small “outlot” donations instead of park fees, which reduced costs considerable.  Wolcott said he’d like a workshop where the first agreements could be reviewed for any municipal involvement or responsibility.

An HOA spokesperson said the neighborhood only wants to get council’s feedback if the city is “open” to taking over the road, and bridge etc.

Council wants to meet with engineers and analyze the condition of infrastructure and directed staff to set up a date and time for delving deeper into possible measures needed to bring the road and culvert up to city standards.

Public Works Supervisor Eric Garner spoke with council about water meter reading problems at about 24 addresses. Going through the list council eliminated addresses that either have no structure or have been vacated, and there’s no water flowing.  That left 19 problem accounts.

The meters need to be inspected and that requires staff to enter the dwellings, and Garner is hesitant to insist on this minus council direction.

The city ARPA monies could be applied to purchasing a number of meters or batteries for meter remote signal devices, council said.

Garner will update status of problem meters and recommend a number of units to stock up on to install new metering on a staggered basis.

Council expressed concern that residents who have had water billing “estimated” due to poor equipment function, or inability for staff to access the waterline in your home, you can expect to see a large billing once the issue is fixed.

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