August 14, 2023 at 10:07 a.m.
Jail demo soon, more docks for Center City
The planned demolition of the old county jail officially got off to a soft start as the monument on the jail site, that identified the private company formerly located there, was moved across the street. The marker was shifted to a private residential parcel and Center City council heard last week the property owners are happy to be part of the marker preservation.
The old jail and white stucco “telephone” company. building are being razed by Chisago County.
The jail has been empty for years with completion of a new Chisago County public safety center, that also houses sheriff offices and the communications-dispatch center.
In a different matter, there was some back and forth discussion on a length of docking a private party was offering to the city. This comes on the heels of another offer this summer of a few dock sections. A donation effort was begun and council heard enough money was brought in through outside donations to pay for those sections, which have been positioned on North Center Lake. Mayor Jill Behnke said the same buyer contacted her about an additional 66 feet of docking he’d just bought in auction and if the city wants it he’ll give first claim. Otherwise, Behnke stated, he will sell it. She said it’s easily valued at $30,000 to $35,000 but the offer to the city was $9,000. The mayor said non-city funding just like how the first dock sections were paid for, will be the way this acquisition moves forward. The lakes association has a QR code on its website for donations and local merchants will assist in collecting funds. The city just needs to approve using the dock property. The existing sections can be reconfigured and attached to new sections creating more boat slips and a larger central platform.
Council member Mark Wolcott was first to point out the city shouldn’t be involved in this manner, after an item is purchased. If the council wants to expand the area allowing boats to dock, there needs to be a discussion first. He added he hasn’t seen an accounting for the donations reportedly supporting the existing small sections
Mayor Behnke said if council doesn’t want to be part of this, her contact, Todd McBride can simply market the latest acquisition for re-sale. She stressed that she never promised the city’s participation.
Council agreed the current dock access seems to be well-used and it would be nice to be able to extend the sections to deeper water. The vote was 4-1 with Council member Wolcott opposed— to authorize the new docking contingent on sufficient non tax-dollar donations.
The clerk was approved to attend a training in September in the metro area.
Engineering was given the green light to draft needed documents to apply for the LRIP funding program. Minnesota’s Local Road Improvement Program funding got a big boost in this last legislative session and the portion of Grand Avenue closest to Highway 8 is an ideal grant project candidate. The engineering firm can cross the Ts and dot the i’s on a design plan that’s is already nearly done, and submit an application for full LRIP funding, for $7,000. This was authorized by council unanimously.
There was discussion about DNR water usage restrictions and what Center City is required to do. The city is in the St Croix Watershed Drought Response Area.
Because Center City is fewer than 1,000 in population there is no mandate for it to enact a water plan. Other area cities are controlling water use with odd-even use dates, no car washing, and disallowing pool filling, etc.
Still: Center City residents are reminded to water sparingly and be mindful of the dryness this year.
Do not run sprinklers in the middle of the day when the water just evaporates. Best times are early morning. Turf can go dormant. Gardens, bushes and trees should be given water directly or set up a drip irrigation systems. A standard goal towards water conservation is to reduce a city’s use to its January total plus fifty percent.
Council set a budget workshop for August 29 at 6:30 p.m.