The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for June 02, 2003

MOUNTAIN IRON CITY COUNCIL

JUNE 2, 2003

Mayor Skalko called the City Council meeting to order at 6:28 p.m. with the following members present: Joe Prebeg, Jr., Allen Nelson, Dale Irish, Ed Roskoski and Mayor Gary Skalko. Also present were: Craig J. Wainio, City Administrator; Judy Seurer, Accounting Technician; Larry Nanti, Director of Parks and Recreation and Rod Flannigan, City Engineer.

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

Add the following items to the agenda:

VI. New Business

D. Parkville Street and Utility Abandonment

V. Unfinished Business

E. Closed Meeting Request

Approve the minutes of the May 5, 2003 City Council Meeting as submitted.

Approve the minutes of the May 19, 2003 City Council Meeting as submitted.

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.

To acknowledge the receipts for the period May 16-31, 2003, totaling $72,481.70, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

To authorize the payment of the bills and payroll for the period May 16-31, 2003, totaling $348,811.34, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

The motion carried on a roll call vote, with Roskoski voting no.

Willie Johnson was present at the public forum to complain about the blight problem with his neighbor at 5619 Nichols Avenue and stated that his neighbor is running a business out of his home. He would like the zoning administrator to investigate. He has his business materials sitting on his lot and used building materials lying around. The Director of Parks and Recreation stated that procedures have been followed and this is on the agenda for this meeting.

Mr. Johnson also complained about a dog problem next door to him. He stated that there is excessive barking. Prebeg stated that there is an ordinance about public disturbances and he should go to the Sheriffs Department or the Mesabi Humane Society with a complaint.

Mayor Skalko reported that after talking to State Representative Tom Rukavina, Local Government Aid and Taconite Tax Aid is looking worse than he previously thought. Starting in 2004, Taconite Tax Aid will slowly be eliminated over the next eight years. The Council asked the City Administrator if there was any word on the amount of the reduction in Local Government Aid. He stated that it would be approximately $110,000, less than expected.

Roskoski asked if anyone had asked the Mayor about sharing assessor responsibilities with Virginia. The Mayor reported he had no word yet.

Roskoski asked the City Administrator about the League of Minnesota Cities Friday Fax from May 26, 2003. He stated that it said cities with over 2500 population are to have a limitation on their amount of taxes levied. The City Administrator reported that in 2004, the City would only be able to levy 60% of the lost Local Government Aid. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to grant the pay request from Leadcon in the amount of $163,827.50. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to accept the changes requested by Mr. Tom Nikolanci concerning the unity drive easements, including the City Council�s motion identifying the acquisition terms, changing the word “desire” to “consent” and update the signature page to reflect the current Mayor and dates, with the City Attorney�s recommendation. The motion carried with Roskoski voting no.

Roskoski asked if anyone was aware of the parking situation at the YMCA last weekend. Cars were parked on both sides of the street. He stated that this is a bad situation. It was the consensus of the Council to ask the YMCA to let the City know when they have a large event planned, so law enforcement can be notified along with the street department. The Council suggested that the Public Works Director monitor the situation. 

Prebeg stated that the Mesabi Family YMCA would like to use the City�s aerator and staff for their soccer field maintenance. The Parks and Recreation Board referred the request to the Director of Public Works and then the City Council. The City Administrator stated that a limited policy is in place, however, the City would rather individuals went to businesses for equipment rental. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Irish to table the request from the YMCA to use the aerator, dependent on input from the Director of Public Works and more information on the request from the YMCA. The motion carried unanimously.

The Director of Parks and Recreation reported that the Boy Scouts would like to use the West II Rivers Campground for a “camporee” on Sept. 26-28, 2003. This was recommended for approval by the Parks and Recreation Board. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to approve the Boy Scout request to use the campground on September 26-28, 2003. The Director of Parks and Recreation reported that the Boy Scouts might make picnic tables as a thank you. The motion carried.

The Director of Parks and Recreation reported that the blight action procedure set up by ordinance has been followed in regards to the blighted condition at 5619 Nichols Avenue. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish to grant permission to the Director of Parks and Recreation to contact the City Attorney to turn over the matter of the blighted conditions at 5619 Nichols Avenue for legal action. The motion carried. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Roskoski to send the matter of alleged business operations at 5619 Nichols Avenue to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Administrator for a recommendation on action to be taken. Comments were made by Willie Johnson. Steve Giorgi, Planning and Zoning Commission member, suggested checking to see if he has a permit on file to operate a home business on the property. The motion carried. 

The Parks and Recreation Director reported that a contractor will be up at the end of the week for a quote on the repairs needed for the South Grove tennis courts.

Roskoski asked if the trophy case has been found yet. The Parks and Recreation Director reported that it has been located, but may need refinishing. Also, the pictures will be put up in the City Hall/Community Center now that summer staff has started working. He also reported that the Housing and Redevelopment Authority would be holding a meeting with the residents at Mountain Manor about the proposed skating rink/hill at the Mountain Manor park site. 

The Parks and Recreation Director was asked if any Sentence To Serve work has been scheduled. He stated that Carl Wilberg would contact the City when he has time. 

Irish asked if the ownership of the park at Mountain Manor has been determined. The Parks and Recreation Director reported that no information was available yet. Roskoski stated that a grant for the pavilion in the area was received and it was designated as a park to get the grant. The City Administrator stated that the City, Housing and Redevelopment Authority or US Steel is the owner of property. Benchmark Engineering is doing research to determine who is.

Roskoski reported that the Street Committee met and looked at the possibility of an intersection of Highway 169 and Streetcar Road and Benchmark Engineering came up with an estimate of $200,000 in costs. The costs to pave all the roads in the area were discussed. Roskoski stated that he wants an estimate from Benchmark on this. Skalko talked to residents in the area about the road. They told him if it costs too much, don�t do it. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to have Benchmark Engineering look at the loop between Brown and Giorgi�s Roads and talk to David Buria about the proposed intersection and come up with an estimate on the cost to pave the loop. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

Roskoski reported that it was the consensus of the Street Committee to ask for an opinion from the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District on the parking changes requested by Jerry Kujala. 

Roskoski stated his opinions on the proposed 2003 Street Overlay projects. 

Prebeg asked for clarification on the street committee recommendation. Roskoski stated that he wants to wait for estimates on the Kinross roads. Prebeg asked if all the cost estimates can be included together. He stated that the Council should start procedures for the project completion. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to allow staff to make the proper resolution calling for a report on the proposed overlays on the roads in the top section of the street committee report and including the Brown/Giorgi�s Roads overlays. Prebeg questioned the possible overlay of Heather Avenue. He amended his motion with support from Nelson, to add Marion Lane and Niska Road (Heather Avenue) to the list of overlay projects to include in the engineer�s report. Nelson stated he is relying on the Street Committee for information on the condition of the streets. The motion carried with Roskoski voting no.

Bob Manzoline was present to discuss the Mesabi Trail and present a route prepared by Benchmark Engineering for the portion of the trail that goes through downtown. The recommended route comes off of Main Street and goes up an alleyway where a sidewalk will need to be removed and then be paved as a trail. The land is owned by the State of Minnesota. The Rail Authority is asking the City to amend their lease with the State to allow the trail. The trail will travel East on Locomotive Street to Marble Avenue and then go through the woods on edge of the mine pit and wind out to Highway 102 near the corner of Highway 169. The Street committee approved this route, along with the City Engineer. The residents contacted had no opposition. US Steel has not been contacted 

yet. The Trail Authority will do so. Prebeg asked if the original plan was to run the trail down Main Street why was the route changed. Mr. Manzoline explained that Mesabi Trail and Historic trail markers will be put up to allow a choice for bikers to use Main Street or the normal trail, depending on whether or not they wish to view historic sites. He also stated that if US Steel does not want this route, then Marble Avenue could be looked at for a backup version. If the State is not in favor of this route, then the Mesabi Trail will use Mesabi Avenue for a backup version. City Engineer, Rod Flannigan asked if the Council preferred paved trail behind the existing sidewalk or if the trail will use the street surface. Prebeg asked if where the trail comes in and crosses Highway 169 is okay for traffic, or is this a blind spot. Mr. Manzoline stated that the best visibility is on the corner that�s why the spot was chosen. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to approve the route on the map presented to the Council and have the City do what is necessary to get permission from the State and talk to US Steel on the project and proceed with the project. Prebeg asked if Sgt. Stewart, St. Louis County Sheriffs Department, has given an opinion on the route. It was reported that he attended the meeting with the Street Committee. The motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Richard Grabko, Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc., was present to discuss his firm�s proposal for grant writing services. 

At 7:40 p.m. Councilor Roskoski left the meeting.

Skalko asked if he has specifically looked for ADA compliance grants. Mr. Grabko stated that he has. He stated that his firm is currently working with Royalton on renovating their library and securing federal funding. Skalko asked what would be a realistic timetable for securing funding. Mr. Grabko reported that a 12-18 month period would be a good estimate. 

At 7:52 p.m. Councilor Roskoski returned to the meeting.

Prebeg asked if the City has to wait for funding to be approved before a project is started. Mr. Grabko stated that it is rare for a funding source to reimburse after a project is started or completed. Prebeg asked if the firm�s payment coincides with the amount of money brought in. Mr. Grabko stated that his firm would not structure a contract like that. Skalko asked if money could be available by January 1, 2004. Mr. Grabko stated that the soonest the City could apply for funds is October 1, 2003, but he would have to work with the U. S. Senators for that. It depends on when the federal budget is approved. Irish asked if the City called for plans and specifications for library renovations, could some of the projects be started and then fund others later. Mr. Grabko said yes. Prebeg asked if 

getting one grant affects getting a grant from other sources. Mr. Grabko said no. Prebeg asked if housing studies were part of his services. Mr. Grabko stated that his firm does studies, but not market analysis; other firms would need to be consulted for that. The City could apply for funding to pay for analysis. Irish asked what would be the best payment method for an ADA grant. The second option under his proposal would be appropriate, a lump sum/not to exceed cost basis. 

Mr. Brian Hayden from Wenck Associates was present to discuss his firm�s proposal for grant writing services. He stated that he was just proposing to meet with the Council/subcommittee/City Administrator and assess the City�s needs for grant writing services. His firm would communicate with agencies and provide documentation describing potential grant possibilities. Skalko asked if anyone on his firm�s staff has experience on ADA grants. Mr. Hayden said yes, Diane Spector. If the Council wishes, it would be possible to meet with her, as she is based in Duluth. Irish asked is the $2000 retainer fee required before a meeting is scheduled. Mr. Hayden stated yes, he would have a product based on that meeting request to present to the Council. Prebeg asked Mr. Hayden to explain what happens on an application process, is there an application generically filled out, or is something different done by each grant writer? Mr. Hayden stated that most applications are standard, what goes into the answers to the questions determines the success of getting a grant as well as background work with the grant agency. Irish asked if it is possible for Diane Spector to send references on what ADA grants she has worked on. Mr. Hayden said yes. 

It was the consensus of the council to wait until the next meeting to decide on using any grant writing services.

The City Attorney reported in a memo that all procedures with regards to the May 5, 2003 City Council meeting minutes were done in order. 

Irish had a question pertaining to the clarification of a motion concerning information on the IRRRA matching grant at the April 21, 2003 City Council meeting. The City Attorney stated he was not aware of a request to report to the Council until the meeting packet was received. Irish wanted to know why the City Attorney is not getting instructions on what the Council wants. 

The City Attorney reported in a memo that it is up to the City Council to decide on the Library renovations, since it is controlling the funds to be utilized in the remodeling process.

The City Attorney reported in a memo that the AFSCME and Management Employment Contracts are legal.

The Mayor reported that he had checked with the Minton law firm and was told that the Council may have one or more preliminary closed meetings. Nelson stated that he wouldn�t vote for a closed meeting unless what was discussed at the last one is done.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish to have a preliminary closed meeting with our attorney for allegation or charges of behavior of a city employee on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 at 6:30 p.m. The motion carried on a roll call vote with Nelson voting no.

Skalko asked when the cleanup of the Bon-Air site would proceed. The Director of Parks and Recreation reported that it should start later this week or early next week. The City Administrator suggested starting the process of getting reimbursement for cleanup costs through the City Attorney. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish to have the City Administrator contact the City Attorney to start legal action to recover any potential costs caused by the cleanup of the Bon-Air. The motion carried on a roll call vote.

The Mayor requested the City Administrator to schedule a meeting with the school officials for discussion of the unity land exchange. Irish asked if the land would join Tom Schlotec�s land. The City Administrator stated it would not. Mr. Hellyer owns 40 acres in between. Roskoski stated that there is no problem with dialogue. There is a problem with actual costs because of the depressed economy. He advised caution with how much money is spent. Skalko stated that the City might have to use a private developer.

Roskoski stated that the City has a lot of property in the North part of Parkville. It still has streets, sanitary/storm sewers and a water system. He requested having the engineering firm develop an estimate of what the streets and utilities are worth and approaching US Steel to ask what their plans for the area are and maybe secure funding/trade for them. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish to have Benchmark Engineering look at the public infrastructure in the North part of the Parkville area and determine what the value of each part of it would be. Prebeg stated that instead of spending money and having the engineer develop an estimate, maybe the City should get an attorney to see if US Steel is liable for any of the infrastructure. Roskoski amended his motion with support from Irish, to include seeking a legal opinion from the City Attorney as to US Steel�s liability for the infrastructure. The motion carried with Nelson voting no.

The Mayor asked if it has been advertised that a grant may be available to people in need for the sump pump ordinance compliance. The City Administrator stated it is not known if the grant is available yet. Staff is waiting to advertise until the grant is verified.

Roskoski asked the Parks and Recreation Director to give the Director of Public Works a message that on the corner of Marigold Street and Highway 7, the street signs should be put back up. He also stated that on the corner of Locomotive Street and Marble Avenue there are huge piles of sweeping sand that look bad and should be hauled down to Locomotive Park to fill in the basement foundation area. 

Irish asked if the Foreman fills in for the Director of Public Works when he is not available. Discussion took place concerning the job title. Skalko said to ask the Foreman to come to meetings if the Director of Public Works is not available. This subject will be put on the next City Council meeting agenda.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Roskoski to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 p.m. The motion carried.

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