March 31, 2023 at 11:07 a.m.
Public Financing Consultant Kirstin Chatfield said rules on public money require the city to have a plan for the debt. She said, “You don’t have to spend the bond proceeds,” but you do have to have a plan for spending them under a deadline of August 2023.
Newly seated Brian Norelius said that as a council member he expects to have a pretty solid outlook in place before taking on debt and he expressed disappointment the prior council did not have a purchase firmed-up with the Lakeview Motel owner.
In general— Council member Norelius was of the opinion the city needs to communicate better with all landowners, and bring their wishes/vision into the discussion sooner than later.
When campaigning he said he heard, “They (land owners) don’t like being told what’s going to happen with their land.”
Lindstrom borrowed about $7 million in total for the motel and the new fire hall combined. There is a projected $800,000 of this set aside for the motel property that must be “redirected.”
Or it may be used to pay down other city debt. Finance Director Kay Mattson however, said Lindstrom is not carrying a lot of debt versus other similar-sized cities. Per capita debt service in the tax levy is $1,770 and based on the city’s estimated market value Lindstrom legally could be carrying $8 million more.
It was noted, though, Lindstrom’s interest rate on this bond is about one percent; not an interest rate the city will see again anytime soon.
Staff asked how committed new council members are to making redevelopment happen on the parcel between Wally Carlson’s BP and the strip mall. The proposal is that bonded motel funds could be redirected and used as the $500,000 “matching’ city money, promised towards this “O’Jay Juice site” tied to a state grant of $200,000 already awarded.
Lindstrom also has identified the north fronting area on the westbound one-way side of traffic lanes as a priority for improvements. The doorways opening onto the sidewalk area closer to the statue plaza access the street at different levels, and pose hazardous conditions, stormwater drainage is inadequate and the parking lot adjacent to the west wall of the bakery needs redesign and finishing. There has also been an on-going effort to put power lines underground here but some businesses are more open to cooperating than others.
This “backside” of the mainstreet district could see the $300,000 remaining from the motel bond redirected to its needs.
As for the O’Jay Juice redevelopment, Council member Linda Merkel remarked that this project, (explained as a retail-housing mix) seems to have had a life of its own. Council wasn’t kept apprised of progress and whoever is the next city administrator, she said, they ought to better involve city council.
Newly elected Mayor Judy Chartrand also said she was a little dismayed to hear from Chatfield (at this work session) that the city economic development authority (EDA) has made a formal offer to buy the site. The EDA action is legally authorized, but here again a disconnect with council was a concern.
Additional topics of city streets, naming an industrial/commercial land task force and the proposed new public safety facility for Lakes Area Police were not addressed due to the hours-long session. The public safety facility plans will be put on an agenda for a future Chisago-Lindstrom joint city council meeting.
The commercial/industrial task force should be on the next city council agenda for review, as the council appoints these members and has to establish its framework. Normal planning commission-EDA review is being supplanted by the task force, the mayor explained, because their job will be to look at existing and new tax generating parcels with no real emphasis on either housing or zoning.
Lindstrom Council will continue to meet in workshop format with the schedule possibly going to weekly rather than monthly.
The consensus on a final issue— renaming Beach Park— was that the city park board would be asked to create a sign acknowledging the land as indigenous and erect signage at the park— but to retain the name “Beach Park.” The Dakota language term that was recommended by a native vocabulary expert, to the park board, is neyaawangah which means sandy point.