Two Harbors Council updates
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
The Two Harbors City Council met to a full house on April 8 and all were present except Councilor Simonson. Four people made appearances before the council and the chambers had a standing- room only- crowd.
Friends of the Bandshell Park Update
First, Friends of the Bandshell Park announced that it would like to schedule a public meeting to get input on plans to improve and update the bandshell and surrounding space. Watch the Lake County News-Chronicle for the date and time.
City employee speaks her mind
Next, Gayle Ostman, addressed the council saying she was disappointed that, after submitting and application for the position of financial director, she received a letter saying that she did not meet the minimum educational requirements for the position. Ostman countered that the job announcement said that education and experience may be considered in lieu of education alone. She said she has been working as the assistant financial director for 10 years and is currently performing many of the financial director’s duties since the departure of Rick Sundstrom from the position. She also asked the council to consider increasing her wages to compensate for the increased workload and responsibility, saying that the City has done so when other assistants have been required to step into the role of a director. She has filed a grievance to resolve the issue, but said that she would withdraw the grievance if the matter could be resolved by the council. Mayor Bolen said he would like to see Ostman interviewed for the position of financial director. Councilor George Scheidt objected to Ostman’s offer to withdraw her grievance saying:” I don’t like being held hostage. Either grieve it or don’t. I don’t play that way.”
A motion to refer the matter to the personnel committee to explore the issue and verify the facts was made and carried. Scheidt was the lone no-vote on the motion.
John Ilse, the mechanical engineer from Finland who has offered to purchase the long-neglected roundhouse facility, delivered a brief presentation to the council, which included photographs of his previous projects and his plan for the roundhouse, which was last used as the J & J Castings facility. Ilse also laid another offer on the table in the form of a barter arrangement with the City.
“I will construct an engineered foundation and cradle system on land near the current tug dock and visitor viewing stand for the 100-ton Edna G tug and move it from the water to its foundation in even exchange for the roundhouse and shops buildings and the underlying roughly 6.5 acres,” said Ilse’s written proposal.
If the council were to agree, Ilse estimates that the City will save approximately $1,077,578.
In a vote later that evening the council passed a resolution to move forward with its plan to accept a proposal from MSA Professional Services, Inc., in Duluth, to “prepare plans and specs and provide bid administration services for demolition of the J &J Castings Building in the amount of $10,690.”
Community response to the prospect of restoring the roundhouse has been mixed, with people weighing in on social media sites, letters to the editor and other correspondence. Some Finland residents expressed concern about the need for due diligence in the decision making process (see A4 for a letter to the editor from Robert Curry.)
Lake Connections seeks City’s support
County Commissioner Rick Sve was last to address the council, asking for the City of Two Harbors’ continued support of the broadband project. Utility pole ownership issues between Lake Connections, the City and Frontier Communications have resulted in delays in the project, as have disagreements over the placement of fiber optic cables on the poles. Mayor Bolen assured Sve of the City’s ongoing commitment to the broadband project. Later in the meeting, the council passed a resolution to accept the “Utilities Committee’s recommendation to accept an engagement letter and prospective consent letter from Briggs and Morgan regarding pole attachment matters.”
Briggs and Morgan is a Twin Cities-based legal firm that has considerable experience negotiating agreements between utilities companies, according to City Attorney Steve Overom. Overom said that seeking additional legal assistance is in everyone’s best interest.
A motion carried to schedule a public hearing regarding a wastewater facilities plan for May 13 at 7 p.m. and the council passed a resolution to accept a proposal from MSA to prepare demolition plans and specifications for the Water Treatment Plant Diesel Building in the amount of $3,600.
Official Two Harbors City Council meeting minutes appear in the Lake County News-Chronicle in the classifieds section under MN Legals Meetings/Minutes.