The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota

Meeting Minutes for March 23, 1998

The meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. by Mayor Brunfelt with the following members present: Carolyn Olsen, Stephen Skogman, Joe Matanich, Curt Piri, and Mayor Mitchell Brunfelt. Also present were: Craig J. Wainio, City Administrator; Jill M. Forseen, Deputy Clerk; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works; and Larry Nanti, Recreation Director.

The following were also present:

Planning and Zoning Commission

Jerry Kujala, Zoning Administrator

Larry Lindholm

Rusty Knuti

Steve Giorgi

Dave Skalbeck

Community Building Committee

Joe Prebeg, Chairperson

Mark Kailanen

John Meglen

Carolyn Kujala

Mountain Iron Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Ed Roskoski

Mesabi Daily News

Jessie White

The Mayor reviewed the situation with the City Hall regarding the upgrades to the existing city hall building for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance versus building a new city hall. The Mayor opened the discussion on the City Hall issue.

Councilor Olsen said she had been talking with residents regarding their feelings about the situation. She said that the consensus was that the vote was only for a community center and now there are proposals to change things with the vote already taken. She said that if City Hall is moved it would be like abandoning the downtown area. She said that there has been a verbal commitment to the downtown business owners to stay here. She said that she would like to see the current city hall remodeled.

Councilor Skogman said that when the community center was planned the committee planned for expansion of other buildings to the project. He also said that the vote was taken for only the community building and nothing was said about a new city hall. He said that he would like to see the city hall moved to Eighth Street to be put near the center of the city’s population. He said that he cannot see spending a lot of money to bring the city hall into ADA compliance. 

Mayor Brunfelt addressed Councilor Olsen’s concern regarding the bond money being spent on the city hall. He said that the bonds were sold and would only be used for the construction of the community building. He said that funds could be expended from the reserve accounts for the construction of a new city hall. 

Councilor Skogman said that the City Council should hold some public meetings to get a feeling from the residents regarding the city hall.

Councilor Piri said that he would like to see the city hall building remain in the Downtown area. He said that he could see the city hall moving in 5-10 years. He said that once the city hall moves there will be other business closings in the downtown area. He also said that he would like to see some public meetings to see what direction the residents want to go.

Councilor Matanich said that he also agrees with Councilor Piri. He gave the example of Gilbert, they only moved their city hall across the street and not a few miles away. He would like to let the people of Mountain Iron speak at a public meeting.

Commissioner Giorgi said that the Planning and Zoning Commission did not have an opinion as a Commission. He personally wondered if the residents would still have voted yes if the proposal included a new city hall building being constructed on Eighth Street. He said that the community building only passed by 27 votes. He said that the City needs to look at making a long range plan, buying into the plan and complete things in a structured fashion. He felt that the City Council would not find a viable use for the current city hall building if a new one were to be constructed. He thought the City Council should not put the focus of Mountain Iron, (city hall), on a dead end street (Eighth Street).

At 7:15 p.m., Jim Johnson, Community Building Committee Member, entered the meeting.

The City Administrator said that it would take approximately one to one and one half years to complete the city’s long range plan. 

Jerry Kujala spoke from a downtown businessman’s perspective. He said that the decision to build a new city hall should include what is going to happen with the present city hall building. He also said that Eighth Street should be constructed to South Grove before the city hall is constructed there. 

The Mayor said that a public meeting should be held to further discuss this issue.

Ed Roskoski questioned what the $400,000-$500,000 would cover to bring the present city hall into ADA compliance. The Mayor said that the elevator cost was the most expensive with the remaining cost for remodeling of the building. 

Councilor Olsen asked if the public meetings for the discussion of the future of the city hall would slow the process down for the construction of the community building.

The City Administrator said that the architect would bring the final specifications back to the city council in about 10-12 weeks. He also said that the more discussion there is on the buildings, the slower the process for construction will be.

The Recreation Director said that the preliminary specifications for the community building should be available in about one to one-half weeks.

The Mayor said that he would like to schedule some public meetings as soon as possible to get an opinion from the residents of Mountain Iron, but he does not want to see the construction of the community building slowed.

The Recreation Director felt that the city should call for bids by the end of May or beginning of June.

The Mayor asked that, “Set a Public Meeting to Discuss the Future of the City Hall,” be put on the next regular meeting agenda.

Councilor Skogman asked the Planning and Zoning Commission members about the old comprehensive plan. He questioned how different the Planning and Zoning Commission’s ideas were from the 1974 comprehensive plan. 

Commission Giorgi stated that the city has definite transportation needs. 

Commission Skalbeck said that the comprehensive plan that was adopted 25 years ago has basically been followed by the city.

The Mayor advised the public that the City Council is currently working on the transportation issue in the city. 

Commission Knuti said that it is an unfortunate circumstance for how the downtown area has gotten because of the mining operation. He said that if the City Council were to put $500,000 in upgrades to the present city hall building they would probably still have to build a new building in the future. He also said that a business would probably not come into the present city hall building in the future. 

Joe Prebeg, Building Committee Chairperson, said that the committee is waiting for the community building construction to begin. 

Jim Johnson, Building Committee Member, said that part of the long range plan for the area where the community building would be constructed is to add other public buildings in the future.

The Mayor opened the discussion on the IRRRB funding priorities and the capital improvement program.

The Mayor said that the funding designations have changed because of the additional $50,000 IRRRB grant received for the Ann’s Acres water extension project.

The City Administrator updated the Council on a proposed shifting of IRRRB grant and capital improvement funds, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). 

The Mayor said that the Council will bring IRRRB funding priorities to the next regular meeting for approval.

The Mayor said that housing development in Parkville is his first priority. The Mayor said that he presented the plans for the Parkville Housing Development to some of the IRRRB commissioners and they were excited about the project.

Commissioner Giorgi said that the Parkville Housing Development should be a top priority for the council. He said that with the Kids Peace Project coming to Buhl there is a need for housing for 100 new employees.

Councilor Skogman said that the Parkville Housing Project should be in the City Council’s short range plan of one to five years and the Eighth Street Extension Project should be in the City Council’s long range plan of five to ten years.

Councilor Piri said that he would like to have a portion of the Eighth Street extension completed. He said that the City is always starting something and not finishing. He said that a stronger focus needs to be placed on the west end of town to keep the downtown area strong. He said the Parkville Housing Project is a good project, but he would still like to see some housing development south of South Grove. 

Councilor Olsen said she wants to see the Eighth Street extension completed to South Grove.

The Mayor moved to the discussion of the postal boundaries on the agenda.

The Mayor said that he feels that if the City wants to achieve having all Mountain Iron addresses within the City limits that the Council will have to take some drastic measures. 

Commissioner Giorgi said that the zip code directs mail. He suggested having the West Virginia area put Mountain Iron as their address with a 55792 zip code.

The Council discussed re-addressing the entire city with the 911 grids.

The Mayor requested that the postal boundaries’ issue be put on the agenda for the next regular meeting.

At 8:10 p.m., it was moved by Skogman and supported by Brunfelt that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried.

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