TH Council pledges to move forward on FBOThe Two Harbors City Council was hit with a higher-than-expected bill for a fixed-base operation hangar at the Richard Helgeson Airport at Monday’s finance committee meeting.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The Two Harbors City Council was hit with a higher-than-expected bill for a fixed-base operation hangar at the Richard Helgeson Airport at Monday’s finance committee meeting.
Benita Crow of SEH, the engineering firm serving as consultants on the project, said the current projection for the city’s responsibility tops $100,000 and may be up to $108,000. The city was anticipating their costs to be around $80,000, according to Administrator Lee Klein.
According to officials on Monday, the majority of the project will be paid for with grants—$350,000 from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and $417,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, aeronautics division. The city is responsible for any other costs.
“I think we need time to chew on this,” Council Seth MacDonald said.
However, Crow informed the council they didn’t have a lot of time to debate the higher costs. MnDOT officials had informed her that the agency is wrapping up it’s fiscal year and need to know whether Two Harbors will be accepting the grant before Friday. Accepting the grant ties the city to the project with more finality. If they back out after accepting, Crow said, it would probably make future grants much harder to obtain.
Crow also informed the council that she could try to lower the total building costs by performing “value engineering” on the blueprints. She said she could remove some extra features to lower the total cost.
Ultimately, the city decided to accept the grant on Monday and accept the bid for construction at a special meeting next week after Crow completes the value engineering.
All of the councilors and the mayor voted to accept the grant.
A fixed-base operation would provide fuel, hangar rental space and aircraft maintenance to customers of the Richard B. Helgeson Airport in Two Harbors.
Mayor Randy Bolen told the council that he has received numerous calls wondering why there is no longer an emergency siren in the city. Councilor George Scheidt said the previous system fell out of use years ago.
“The system was so antiquated that they couldn’t get parts for it anymore,” Schiedt said.
Bolen put a motion on the table to send a letter to county officials, beginning a dialogue about the lack of sirens and potentially getting a new system.
Councilor Roger Simonson said he questioned the effectiveness of a siren system, especially in an age when most people are connected to other sources of information.
“The problem with it was, and still will be nobody knows what the warning is for,” Simonson said. He also expressed trepidation that the city might be signing itself up to pay for a new system.
“These things always evolve into costing a lot of money. It’s not something we’re going to say no to, but I think we ought to understand who is going to pay for it,” Simonson said.
Council Robin Glaser said she thought it would be a useful endeavor, especially to inform tourists of potential weather hazards.
The council voted to send the letter to county officials to open discussions.
New finance director
After seven interviews and three second interviews, the finance committee has chosen a new finance director. Dan Jones, who served on the city council for eight years, was unanimously approved as the new finance director for the city.
More costs for city trail
A trail within the City of Two Harbors has gotten more expensive. The paved trail will connect the paved path in front of Super One and ShopKo to 11th Avenue. In April, the cost was estimated at $540,000—about $100,000 more than the City had projected. Though most of the project is covered by grants, the city is responsible for any costs above $444,000.The trail is just a few blocks long but carries such a hefty price tag because it crosses a section of CN Railroad.
Klein said the trail design team has requested $12,000 more for a license from CN Railroad to cross a storm sewer. The City has already paid a $3,700 bill to CN for an easement. The council moved to table the motion until they can find out more about the additional costs.