Two Harbors City Council highlightsHighlights from the Monday, Jan. 21 meeting of the Two Harbors City Council.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
The City of Two Harbors has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Iron Range Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board toward the completion of a new fixed-base operation hangar at the Richard Helgeson Airport . The budget for the project is estimated at $800,000. The Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division will fund 50 percent of the remaining $500,000, with the City of Two Harbors picking up the other half. The exception to the 50/50 split between the state and the city will be for the build-out of the 420 square foot office space in the hangar, said Benita Crow of SEH, the engineering firm serving as consultants on the project.
The project has been touted as an opportunity for growth. Potential benefits to the city include rent on the hangar, additional air traffic at the airport and revenues from the sale of fuel for the planes. There is also the possibility that growth of the business will mean TH Aero, the aircraft maintenance company that will operate out of the hangar, will create jobs.
“The overall long term vision that we’ve got for the property is to bring jobs and economic opportunity to the city--to build on an asset that hasn’t been fully utilized,” Mayor Randy Bolen said.
The motion to accept the IRRRB grant passed unanimously.
Negotiations between the City of Two Harbors and a new airport management company are nearly complete. The City is awaiting a final decision from Tally Ho Aviation. Word is expected soon, according to City Administrator, Lee Klein, and Councilor Roger Simonson.
“The candidate seemed to be in agreement (with the contract). I assume we’ll be hearing from him in the near future,” said Simonson. If Tally Ho agrees, it will be paid $3,750 per month compensation for management of the airport, within the City’s 2013 budgeted amount.
The Two Harbors Historical Society requested a $2000 increase for the management of the Edna G. , which would bump the annual cost to $9000. While there was no opposition to an increase, there were questions about the need for the additional funds.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing justification for the increase,” said Bolen. “I’m for it. I have no problem with it, but I’d like to see what (the increase) is for.”
The council tabled the request for two weeks and asked Klein to contact the Historical Society for a more thorough explanation of its request.
Disagreement over the ownership of utility poles has been at the center of an ongoing debate between Lake County and Frontier Communications for many months. Most recently, the county has made a data request of the City in an effort to resolve the matter, said City Attorney Steve Overom.
The County has been asked to narrow the focus of its request so that only relevant documents need to be produced by the City, added Overom. Councilor Simonson expressed concern over the amount of time and city employee wages that would be involved in complying with the County’s request.
“This might end up being to the advantage of the City,” assured Overom. “We’ll work through that whole process and do things according to the rules.”
In another effort to resolve the wrangling over pole ownership, the council passed a motion to designate Bob Sellman, retired electrical superintendent for the City of Two Harbors, as a volunteer of the City. Sellman offered his assistance to current superintendent, Steve Blettner, but the designation was necessary to permit Sellman to ride as a passenger in a city-owned vehicle.
A unanimous motion was passed to permit the City to begin its search for a new finance director to replace Richard Sundstrom, who recently retired.
Another motion was passed to refer Councilor Robin Glaser’s request for a two-hour parking limit in the downtown area to public affairs and public safety committees. Glaser said that a downtown resident has expressed frustration with the parking situation. The proposed limit would include the 5-600 blocks of First Avenue and streets up to Second Avenue.
In unanimous roll call votes, the council passed motions to pay councilors for their attendance at committee and commission meetings. Councilors serve as members of the Edna G., HRA, Trees and Trails, Recreation, the Two Harbors Economic Development Authority and others. Mayor Bolen noted that there are openings on several of the committees—opportunities for residents to get involved.
“If you have the time, I encourage you to spend an hour or two a month to help your community,” he said. People interested in volunteering can call the mayor or city hall if interested.
Finally, the council passed motions designating its depositories, the adoption of Robert’s Rules of Order for meetings, the appointment of the Law Office of Maki and Overom to handle legal matters for the City and the Lake County Attorney’s office for criminal matters. The Lake County News-Chronicle was chosen as the City’s newspaper.