The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for December 17, 2001

DECEMBER 17, 2001

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. by Mayor Brunfelt with the following members present: Joe Prebeg, Jr., Stephen Skogman, Joe Matanich, Ed Roskoski, and Mayor Mitchell Brunfelt. Also present were: Craig J. Wainio, City Administrator; Jill M. Forseen, Municipal Services Secretary; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works; Sam Aluni, City Attorney; and Greg French, City Engineer.

It was moved by Matanich and supported by Prebeg that the consent agenda be approved as follows:

1. Add the following items to the agenda:

IV. C. Public Works Director

1. Water Treatment Controls

VI. F. Request from William Luzovich

2. Approve the minutes of the December 3, 2001, regular meeting as submitted.

3. That the communications be accepted, placed on file, and those requiring further action by the Council be acted upon during their proper sequence on the agenda.

4. Authorize the payment of the bills and payroll for the period December 1-15, 2001, totaling $322,086.02, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

5. Acknowledge the receipts for the period December 1-15, 2001, totaling $506,837.36, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

The motion to adopt the consent agenda carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

During the public forum, the Mayor read the following statement into the record:

“As most of you are aware, in the Saturday and Sunday editions of Mesabi Daily News, Matt and Kathy Kishel submitted letters that were sharply critical of me and the City Council regarding the City Council�s decision to implement address changes throughout the City. Mr. & Mrs. Kishel�s words were particularly critical of me, both politically and personally. Though Mr. & Mrs. Kishel have every right to publicly and privately criticize the decisions that we make as elected officials. I was very hurt and disheartened by the personal attacks and the personal tone of your commentary. Mr. & Mrs. Kishel certainly are not the first individuals, and they probably won�t be the last, to make personal attacks against me because of my actions, because of actions that I have taken, or statements that I have made in my capacity as Mayor of this City. In the five years that I have held this office, I certainly have not been a quiet Mayor. As the elected leader of this City, I have aggressively confronted and addressed issues and public policy matters that I felt were very important for the long-term viability of our City. I believe that leadership is vision; it is some notion of where the future lies and how to get there. Leadership is guts, the willingness to step up to hard decisions, take risks, and maybe fall flat on your face in trying. Leadership is energy, a determination to keep going when everyone else tells you, “It�s a lost cause.”

“My strong stands in some issues have generated controversy, but in this arena of public policy discussions, controversial, open and aggressive debate of the issues is an absolutely essential part of the process. Some of my detractors have turned these public policy discussions into avenues for making very personal and sometimes unbelievably harsh personal attacks against me and my family. One constituent even attempted to goad me into a fistfight after a meeting when I had simply stated my position on a controversial public issue. I also have heard derogatory remarks directed at my wife, even though she is completely nonpolitical. She is a completely nonpolitical individual. Who by sheer circumstance happens to be married to an elected official. People who know me, personally and professionally, will tell you to a person that I am a kind, caring, and sensitive person, that I am a dedicated and caring family man, and a loyal friend, and I am a person of strong principles and uncompromising ethics. Despite the personal attacks against me and my family, I have continued to serve the City by running for re-election as Mayor and being re-elected in 1998 and 2000. I have continued to serve, not because of any benefit to me, but because of my personal commitment to public service and community involvement. My service as Mayor certainly has not been perfect. Like all of us here, I have made mistakes. I have committed errors in judgment, in fact, I am sure that in the heat of some of our debates, I have made personal attacks or personal statements regarding some of you. If that has occurred, I acknowledge it, and I sincerely apologize. But I will continue to take strong stands on the issues and if I disagree with a position that you take on a policy matter, I will clearly and strongly express my disagreement. We must always be mindful that we are here to debate policy, public policy issues. And while our commentary on those issues should be thoughtful and spirited, we should always refrain from making personal attacks on each other. As to Mr. And Mrs. Kishel, if you believe that I treated you rudely at the last meeting, then I apologize. But, be mindful of the fact, that as the Chairperson of this meeting, it is my duty to maintain order, to move debate along, and to ensure that the Council is efficiently moving forward with the meeting agenda and the public business. If I believe that an individual is becoming disruptive, or disrespectful, then it is not only my prerogative, but it is my duty, to enforce the rules of the decorum, by ruling you out of order, so that the Council can move forward with the other public business on the agenda. As to the substance of the Kishel�s vigorous opposition to the address changes, I would first like to point out that their opposition to the Council decision arrives here after the fact. Before the City Council decided to move forward with this address change, the Kishels and other affected residents were notified by letter that the City was going to be changing their addresses. After receiving that letter, the Kishels never came forward to voice their opposition to the address change. The City Council went ahead with implementing the address change. A committee was formed to develop new names for the street that were slated to be re-named, to work with 9-1-1 to give each house a new 9-1-1 house number. The Volunteer Committee and City Staff spent countless hours in developing and processing the information and data that were needed to implement the address changes. When this information and data were presented to the City Council, the Council approved of the new street names and house numbers and approved moving ahead with implementation. As part of the implementation, the City Council voted to purchase new street signs for those areas with new street names. The new street signs were ordered and we expect delivery in the next couple of weeks. As part of the implementation, the City mailed notices to each affected resident and business, notifying them of their new addresses and directing them to begin utilizing their new addresses.”

“After all of this has occurred, the Kishel�s come here, after the fact, demanding that the City not change their address. Where were they before the fact? Where were they before the City Council made its decision to move forward with implementation? Where were they before a group of volunteers and staff spent countless hours in putting together all of this information? Where were they before the City expended tax payer dollars in mailings, staff time, and new signage? Where were they before other residents in this City went ahead and changed their addresses in conformance with the notice from the City? The Kishels were notified in advance before the City Council decided to implement the address change, but they never showed up to voice their opposition, until now, after the address change has been implemented. It also was important to note that the West Virginia/Westgate area, where I live, is not the only area affected by the address change. With the exception of the Old Town Area of Mountain Iron, all of the other neighborhoods in Mountain Iron have been affected by the address change. The streets and the house numbers in the Old Town area were changed for 9-1-1 purposes many years ago. With the address changes implemented here in 2001, the residents of South Grove and Ann�s Acres were all given new house numbers and the residents of Parkville and West Virginia/Westgate were given new house numbers and street names. Many people in the affected areas have already went ahead and changed their addresses. The City Council has expressed a number of policy reasons for the address changes. The first is 9-1-1 emergency responses. The Old Town area of Mountain Iron was the only area of the City that had 9-1-1 house numbers. In order to make this consistent throughout the City, the City Council decided that every house and business in the City should have 9-1-1 numbers. For purposes of public safety and emergency response, this is a completely legitimate public policy decision by the City Council. In my mind, if this 9-1-1 consistency throughout the City saves even one life in the next 30 years, that is a benefit that far out weighs any of the inconveniences or burdens relating to the initial implementation of the address changes. In his letter to the editor, Mr. Kishel states that the City was not able to produce any letter from 9-1-1 directing that the City implement this change. The fact is that nobody from the City ever stated or represented that we had received a letter from 9-1-1 directing that we do this. Nor has anybody from the City ever stated or represented that 9-1-1 directed that the City do this. This was a public policy decision initiated by the Mountain Iron City Council to have 9-1-1 consistencies throughout the City. Another reason that the City went ahead with the address change was for purposes of uniformity. In his letter to the editor, Mr. Kishel addressed this issue of uniformity by stating quote, “meaning you start at one of the City and change everyone unilaterally, not using themes such as rocks, trees, birds, or flowers, so this reason is now out” end quote. Mr. Kishel completely misses the point on this issue. From my perspective, this uniformity issue is similar to the City of Mountain Iron�s proposed acquisition of Virginia utilities that service Mountain Iron residents. Residents who live within the domain of the City of Mountain Iron should be serviced by Mountain Iron utilities. Similarly, from the standpoint of uniformity, it makes absolutely no sense for Mountain Iron residents to have house numbers and street numbers that are an extension of the Virginia street grid. It makes absolutely no sense for Mr. Kishel�s address to be 919 West 20th Avenue, but he lives in the far eastern edge of Mountain Iron. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for Mr. Kishel�s house number and street number to be an extension of the Virginia street grid when he lives in the Mountain Iron city limits. Again, this uniformity is a completely legitimate reason supporting the City Council�s decision to change addresses. Mr. Kishel also raises a strong objection to the use of street names instead of street numbers.”

“Why are street names a concern? Areas like Old Town Mountain Iron, South Grove, and Ann�s Acres have had street names instead of street numbers for many decades. The City of Gilbert has street names instead of street numbers. The City of Eveleth has street names instead of street numbers. Mr. Kishel has not provided any specifics as to why it is so wrong to go with street names instead of street numbers. And, the fact of the matter is, that street names have been used without any problems in other parts of Mountain Iron and in other cities for decades. As to the City�s dispute with the U.S. Postal Service and its impact on the residents of the West Virginia/Westgate area, since that dispute arose, the City has taken the position that from the City�s prospective, and for 9-1-1 purposes, the addresses are, Mountain Iron MN 55792. The U.S. Postal Services has informed residents, that for purposes of the mail, they should use Virginia MN 55792. For purposes of the mail, the fact is the mail will be delivered whether the resident uses Virginia designation or Mountain Iron designation. So, this really is a non-issue. And, the choice of which designation to use really is up to the individual resident. The dispute with the post office will really never be resolved unless and until the West Virginia/Westgate area is serviced by the Mountain Iron post office and the 55768 zip code. The City will continue in its efforts to make that a reality. As part of those efforts, the City is researching whether the 55792 zip code designation for the West Virginia/Westgate area has had any negative impact on our census numbers. In other words, have the residents, living in that area, been counted as living in Virginia or Mountain Iron. This is a legitimate question. The answer to which we have not yet found. It deserves noting that this issue was brought to my attention by Senator Mark Dayton�s office; they were concerned that with Virginia�s 55792 zip code servicing part of Mountain Iron, that it may have a negative impact on the census count in Mountain Iron. If that indeed turns out to be the case, then we will certainly bring that to the attention of our congressional delegation as part of our ongoing effort to have the entire City serviced by the 55768 zip code. I have identified the public policy reasons for why the City Council went ahead with the address changes. In making our decision, we obviously recognized some benefits that we believed are in the best interest of the City and its� residents. However, in his strong, after the fact opposition to our decision, Mr. Kishel has not stated any specific reasons as to why he is so vigorously opposed to the decision. He did express some concerns that the address change would cost him and other residents a lot of money. That is a complete fallacy. With your checking account, you can use up the checks that you currently have and then when you have to order new checks, which you have to do anyway, or I�m assuming you would do anyway, just make your address change at that time. With your various bills and credit cards, just note your new address when you send in your latest payment. With any subscriptions that you may have, just note your new address when you renew your subscriptions on a quarterly or annual basis. None of these things will cost you any money. With your driver�s license the state will not charge you for a new license when the address change is made for 9-1-1 purposes. The only minimal cost is that you will have to buy four new numbers to put somewhere on the outside of your house. You can pick those up at any local hardware store for five to ten dollars. On the issue of Mr. Kishel�s petition, I have decided that, out of respect for the fact that Mr. Kishel went through great efforts to obtain the signatures on the petition, and that he presented that petition at our last council meeting, I will accept his petition as part of the record at this meeting, if that is acceptable to him.”

“I will accept his petition as part of the record at this meeting, with the caveat being, that by accepting the petition as part of the record, the City is not in anyway verifying its accuracy in terms of the signatures contained in the petition, nor will the City be taking any actions to verify the signatures contained in the petition. I have been advised by the City Attorney, Mr. Aluni, that in this representative form of government, the City Council is not obligated, in any way, to take action on the petition, especially a petition that is submitted after the City Council decided to implement the address changes and after tax dollars have been spent in the implementation process. Finally, this matter has been decided and we are moving forward with the implementation of the address changes. However, as part of the public forum portion of our meeting, I will give Mr. Kishel one last opportunity to address the Council on this issue, as long as his comments are not overly repetitive relative to the comments he made at our last City Council meeting. Mr. Kishel�s comments will be noted for the record, but as a Council we will not revisit this issue and the implementation of the address changes will continue.”

The following people spoke during the public forum:

Mr. Kishel spoke and stated that the comments that he made were not meant personally; they were only meant as Mayor Brunfelt being the leader of this community. He said that he apologized that the Mayor took it personally. He said that he could not address all of the items that the Mayor stated just now, so he requested an opportunity, at a later date, once it�s printed out, to be able to answer some of these things. He thanked the Mayor for accepting his petition on the record. He said that when he spoke of uniformity, in the beginning, the people should have had the right to vote to change everything unilaterally. He said that he never said that he did not care whether the changes were street numbers or names, only that everybody changed and it went A to Z, from one end of Mountain Iron to the other. He asked whether the new information that he has is correct or not. He said that UPS, Critter Care, North Star Cycle and two residences, have they been informed of any changes to their addresses? Are they a part of Mountain Iron? The Mayor said that they are a part of Mountain Iron.

The Mayor said that there have been discussions going on at the City Staff level regarding making a complete boundary line of Highway 53 with the City of Virginia. This would involve a possible land exchange with the City of Virginia. The Municipal Services Secretary stated that the addresses were not changed on 16th Avenue because of the boundary line of the City of Mountain Iron and Virginia being the street and the numbering system on one side would be different from the other side.

The Mayor advised the residence that Barb Fivecoate, Westgate area, was here and she served on the committee that worked on the address changes.

The Mayor advised the residents that they have a personal choice whether to use the Mountain Iron MN 55792 or the Virginia MN 55792, but as to the house numbers and the street names those must be changed to the new address.

Phyllis Marconette, 918 West 21st Avenue, said that her neighbor came to house when there was trouble. She said that the 9-1-1 personal knew whom she was when she called and there were no problems with locating the address.

Sylvia Chad, 5493 Daffodil Avenue, said that she would not have voted for change, but she has no objection with the street numbers and names. She asked whether she should use Mountain Iron or Virginia 55792. The Mayor said that he stated earlier that it is an individual choice whether to change to Mountain Iron MN 55792 or Virginia MN 55792.

Barb Fivecoate, 5422 Daisy Avenue, advised the residents, that were present, that the State of Minnesota does not charge to change your driver�s license when it is for a 9-1-1 address change.

Julie Marconette, read the letter from the federal government that advises the residents to use the Virginia MN 55792 to get their mail routed properly. She said that they are told to follow what the governmental entities say and the federal government and the local government are saying two different things.

Shannon Peterson stated that her mail had been delayed.

Mr. Kishel said that he is not against the change, but he is against the process of how it was accomplished. He also said that he would like to have his address on his utility bill state Virginia MN 55792, since it is his choice to do so.

David Paakkonen, asked if the Council could just change the address back and avoid this whole mess. The City Attorney said that it is up to the Council if they wanted to reverse coarse on this, there is procedures they would have to follow to do that, which is up to the Council�s discretion.

Bob Newberg said that he recalled Erna Novak coming to the City Council meeting requesting that the Council not change the addresses because she had to have emergency services come to her house three times.

Barb Fivecoate, advised the residents that a public hearing was held regarding the changing of the addresses three years ago and only four people attended the public hearing. She outlined the procedure that was followed to develop the address changes.

It was moved by Roskoski to accept the petition from Mr. Kishel regarding the address changes. The Mayor said that the motion was unnecessary.

Matt Kishel stated that he is opposed to the zip code change from 55792 to 55768, for the record.

It was moved by Skogman and supported by Prebeg to approve payment request number six to KGM Contractors, Inc. in the amount of $21,860.55 for the Highway 169 and Emerald Avenue Reconstruction Project. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

It was moved by Skogman and supported by Matanich to approve payment request number two to C.O.A.L. Rental, Inc. in the amount of $19,903.60 for the South Grove Baseball Field Reconstruction Project. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

C.O.A.L. Rental, Inc. Representatives expressed concern with snowmobilers riding on the ballfield. They suggested that snow fence be placed there to deter the snowmobilers. C.O.A.L. Rental, Inc. Representatives stated that they would donate an industrial sprinkler to use for watering the ball fields. The Council requested that they be notified when the sprinkler is delivered and directed Staff to send a thank you letter at that time.

It was moved by Skogman and supported by Prebeg to approve the amendment to the Safety Compliance Contract with the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association for safety compliance. The motion carried.

It was moved by Matanich and supported by Skogman to authorize Staff to prepare specifications and seek quotes for replacement of the Water Treatment Plant controls. The motion carried.

It was moved by Matanich and supported by Skogman to adopt Resolution 46-01, Charitable Gambling, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Skogman to adopt Ordinance 06-01, State Building Code, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried.

It was moved by Skogman and supported by Matanich to approve the amendment to IRRRB Grant Contract number B43-793 for a time extension. The motion carried.

The Council requested that the City Administrator go forward with the Strategic Planning Process and supply more detail to the City Council.

The Council requested City Staff to look at where the Long Range Plan was and discuss it at the next regular meeting.

The Council reviewed the communications.

The Council discussed the request from William Luzovich to waive the special assessment on parcel 175-0061-00190, a tax forfeited parcel. The City Administrator said that the lot is totally unbuildable and cannot be used for anything. The Mayor asked the City Administrator to contact the League of Minnesota Cities regarding obtaining a sample policy regarding special assessments on particular lots.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Matanich to reduce the special assessment on parcel 175-0061-00190, Stoney Brook Park, Outlot A, by 50%. The motion carried on the following roll call vote: Roskoski, yes; Prebeg, yes; Skogman, yes; Matanich, yes; and Brunfelt, no.

The following Council Members spoke during the open discussion:

Councilor Matanich said that Linda Strukel called him and was very upset about the addressing problems. Councilor Matanich said that he and the City Administrator met with School Board Representatives (Kostich and Sokoloski) regarding the baseball field property by Merritt Elementary to use for additional housing in Mountain Iron. The School Board Representatives said they would like to negotiate something for that property. The City Council requested that the School Board meet with the Council at a future meeting.

Councilor Prebeg commented that the Mayor�s letter was commendable. Councilor Matanich agreed with Councilor Prebeg.

Councilor Roskoski updated the Council regarding the Unity Drive (8th Street) railroad crossing.

Councilor Skogman wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. He said that it was a pleasure working with everyone even through the up and downs of all the issues.

Mayor Brunfelt said that there are different views on the Council and he respects the fact that these elected officials are in the seats of the Council.

At 8:34 p.m., it was moved by Roskoski and supported by Skogman that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried.

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