Board hears Silver Bay opposition to project lThe fate of the proposed Project Labor Agreement policy still awaits, and it’s still a topic of discussion at the Lake County board meeting.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
The fate of the proposed Project Labor Agreement policy still awaits, and it’s still a topic of discussion at the Lake County board meeting.
Commissioner Tom Clifford said at the Feb. 26 meeting that “within the last 48 hours” he’d had calls from countless numbers of people in Silver Bay, all opposing the concept of PLAs.
“If this came to a vote today, I couldn’t support this,” he said. “If you want me to vote in favor of it, you’d have to get these guys (his constituents) on board.”
It was mentioned during discussion that it’s important to get the issue decided one way or the other fairly soon, since the Waterfront Drive and 1st Avenue projects in Two Harbors will be coming up this year.
“Either you’re for it or against, but we can’t keep delaying,” chairman Paul Bergman said. “We have a two-year window to try it, and I’ll be the first to pull plug if it doesn’t work.”
Commissioner Rick Goutermont said he believes the issue boils down to who is eliminated. One way or the other, he said, someone will lose out on opportunities to bid on jobs. He believes things work just fine without a PLA.
“I don’t see anything that’s broke here,” he said.
County administrator Matt Huddleston said that information he has received indicates PLAs do not have to be used for every project.
“Some counties pick and choose, depending on how important a time schedule is,” he said. “It makes sense to look at the policy project by project.”
Bergman asked Huddleston to research how many Lake County people work out of the union labor hall. Meanwhile, a meeting will be set up with Silver Bay people to discuss the issue.
A question of where snowmobilers can legally ride on Hwy. 2 was eventually directed to Huddleston, to research the history and legality of the current practice.
The discussion arose from a complaint of a resident on Hwy. 2 who said snowmobilers have been destroying vegetation on his property. In recent years, riders have been allowed on the back slope of the ditches, and up on the highway shoulder to avoid obstructions or other problems within the ditches.
Part of the problem is that some of the ditch areas have a downward slope from the road, but no back slope, so that riders end up on residents’ property.
“We know they can’t ride in people’s yards. The question is how much they can ride on the shoulder of the road,” Goutermont said.
Bergman reported that Lake County received $100,000 in economic stimulus funds to repair the tunnels. Cook, Carlton and Koochiching counties haven’t received any funds yet, he said.
Bergman also said that at a city/county meeting concerning Waterfront Drive, it was discovered that it will cost $102,000 to replace a storm sewer that crosses Waterfront Drive as part of that reconstruction project. City administrator told the county the city has $50,000 for that portion of the project, and asked if the county could help out.
“Could we work with them to do it rather than a contractor?” Goutermont asked. “Maybe separate it from the bid. We don’t have an extra $50,000, but we might have equipment and manpower.”
Commissioner Brad Jones said the main thing is not to impede the project, which is scheduled to begin this year. It will include a rebuild of parts of the street, and widening at some portions.
The board decided to make some changes in the meeting schedule. They have been meeting at 9 a.m. on the first three Tuesdays of each month, with a 1 p.m. meeting on the fourth Thursday.
At commissioner Clifford’s suggestion, they will move the third Tuesday meeting to 6:30 p.m. in the Law Enforcement Center, through June, and at that time will reevaluate the move. In April, they will begin replacing the fourth Thursday meetings with fourth Tuesday meetings, at 1 p.m.