Two Harbors park bathroom conditions raise a stinkMessy park bathrooms and picnic areas were at the forefront of Monday night’s Two Harbors City Council meeting as a resident brought to light an ongoing problem at her neighborhood park.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News Chronicle
Messy park bathrooms and picnic areas were at the forefront of Monday night’s Two Harbors City Council meeting as a resident brought to light an ongoing problem at her neighborhood park.
Nancy McDonald, a resident of Harbor Point apartments, said Lakeview Park bathrooms are often locked and park visitors ask to use the restroom in her apartment building. While she has no problem allowing them to do so, it is something she thought was an inconvenience that could be avoided with city help.
McDonald said the cleanliness of the bathrooms and food serving area was also an issue. She said she and others spent hours one morning cleaning the area before having a picnic with Harbor Point residents. “Something needs to be addressed,” McDonald said.
City council members said they’ve heard from constituents regarding not only Lakeview Park, but Odegard Park as well. Council member Steve Detlefsen said he got a phone call from an unhappy person who was at Lakeview Park for a wedding reception. Detlefsen said the caller reported that guests arrived to find a filthy bathroom with feces smeared on the walls.
Other council members told of their personal experiences with bathrooms at the parks and those they’ve heard from other Two Harbors residents.
Public works employees are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms every weekday and unlocking them in the morning. The Two Harbors police department is responsible for locking the bathrooms at night.
Public Works Director Tom Gelineau says the night job doesn’t always get done and that he has had to lock the bathrooms many times. He said public works employees do a good job of cleaning the bathrooms but when they are left unlocked, vandals wreak havoc.
“It’s not like we’re not trying,” Gelineau said. He suggested security cameras to deter vandals.
Mayor Randy Bolen, fed up with park complaints that have been coming in for years, wanted action taken immediately. “We have 10,000 other problems to worry about than this crap,” he said.
Council members unanimously approved to hire a temporary employee to work through the weekends to ensure bathrooms are clean and unlocked. It was not determined how that employee would be supervised.
Council members also discussed setting up a long-term solution in hiring a full-time parks and recreation employee to care for the parks. They put that item on the Personnel Committee agenda to explore funding for the position and creating a job description.
Other solutions talked about included installing timed electronic locking system and updates to the bathroom facilities. These items will be offered to the Public Works Committee to work out during budget discussions.
Dog waste in parks was another one of McDonald’s concerns. Council members voted to post dog waste stations in Lakeview Park that would contain plastic bags and garbage cans. The number of waste stations put in will be determined by how much money is available in the public works budget.
Council members had a third and final reading of the Two Harbors archery hunt ordinance. The ordinance passed with a unanimous vote, which means there will be an in-city deer hunt this fall.
The Public Affairs Committee, the Drop Tine chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, and the Two Harbors Police Department all worked to develop the ordinance, which will allow hunters to hunt deer with a bow and arrow. The hope is to cut down on the deer that roam the city and destroy gardens, draw predators, and pose a hazard on roadways.
Hunters will only be allowed in designated areas of the city. They will not be allowed within 200 feet of any building, road, trail, park, school, or residence except in certain spots that have been deemed safe for hunting.
The city ran into a problem with bids for the airport runway reconstruction project. The low bidder, Northland Construction, failed to check a box for an addendum to the bid spec that says the contractor is required to provide Federal Aviation Administration certified reflective markers.
Northland was the low bidder at about $1,177,000, but without checking the box, city approval of the bid with the error could lead to a lawsuit from unsuccessful bidders.
The city also had the option of rejecting all bids and restarting the process but that would likely but the city at risk of not meeting an Aug. 15 deadline set by the FAA grant that is paying for 95 percent of the approximately $1.2 million project.
City Attorney Steve Overum and the city’s engineering firm SEH both recommended that council members vote to declare the Northland Construction bid “unresponsive” and award the contract to KGM Contractors, the next lowest bidder at about $1,178,000. It minimizes the risk of a lawsuit, Overom said, as long as the city bases the decision to choose the second-lowest bidder because the low bidder did not complete the paperwork correctly.
The council unanimously voted to award the bid to KGM.