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July 3, 2022

5/20/2022 1:30:00 PM
North Branch Council sees concept for old Main Street School lot

In other business during the regular North Branch City Council session, following the special joint meeting with utility commissioners:
Council heard of an Eagle Scout project approved by Parks, Trails and Open Space.  Collin Van Tassel will build and install bluebird nesting boxes in the Clayton Anderson Memorial Nature Park.

~ Council saw a concept plan for using the empty block on Highway 95 where Main Street School used to be.  Paul Keenan of Reuter Walton told council there is no action being asked for at this time. The company has a purchase agreement for the property with the goal of getting approvals for an apartment building.  At a point in the future the state Housing and Finance Agency would be involved and Keenan said a letter of support from the city would assist in applying for that funding. (See graphic). The site is attractive, he continued,  because it is an urban setting near shops and services, schools and other amenities.  Keenan said the plan is for three stories (about as tall as the old school) Construction would happen in 2023 with 2024 for move-in.  Parking is underground with extra space on ground level at this time.

Council member Kelly Neider outright rejected the idea and stated she would not be in favor of this project on this site.  The other two members of council in attendance (Patrick Meacham and Mayor Swenson were open to seeing more.)

~Lakes Region EMS gave its annual report after not appearing at a council meeting during covid-19 protocols.  Aarron Reinert noted that in 2021 the service celebrated its 20th anniversary.  It also celebrated retirement of two longtime staffers, Todd Fisk and Ken Larson.

Reinert presented a “Partnership Award” to the city for its support in facilitating past capital projects and helping the emergency service to acquire ventilators with city covid aid.  He said there are plans coming together for another expansion doubling the footprint of the EMS building now.  

There are 90 staffers on LREMS and the team averages 22 calls/runs per day. The organization has 12 ambulances costing $375,000 each.  Delivery now for new vehicles is 2024, Reinert said.

During covid when other services were experiencing resignations and staff shortages from illness, etc. Lakes Region actually stepped in and managed other ambulance loads. “We never dropped an ambulance,” Reinert stated. He attributed this to the great personnel Lakes Region has, he said.

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