County works with Stacy on roadway concerns

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the Aug. 13 Stacy City Council meeting. 

County Engineer Joe Triplett stopped by the meeting to chat about road projects. Triplett reported Stacy Trail will reopen before Labor Day and that he had a chance to sit down with City Engineer Chuck Schwartz to discuss plans for Forest Boulevard.

Triplett said the ongoing traffic study will be ending this week and he will return to Stacy to share results with city officials.

The focus then turned to the turn lanes. Triplett had heard the complaints.

“Unfortunately, the turning lanes are too small,” he said.

He provided a diagram showing some more permanent markers and said anything seen on the pavement at the intersection of Stacy Trail and Forest Boulevard will be torn up and replaced with a permanent surface.

“You mean this is temporary?” Councilor Charles Lucia asked.

Triplett confirmed this is indeed a temporary solution and the county and city can’t proceed further until they approve a traffic control plan for the roadways. Triplett announced plans to install an LED stop sign, but not until after the results of the traffic study are in.

Triplett said he would take responsibility for “getting the word out to local property owners” of any work to be done in the right of way in regard to future plans to do some significant paving with concrete in the future.

In conjunction with county plans, City Maintenance Supervisor Tanner Jones has presented a 2014 street projects plan that will be contingent on the city’s 2014 budget.

Stacy officials and NBAHA draw on Stacy Sports Complex deal

The Stacy Sports Complex has been frozen in its tracks for some time. Hoping for some kind of forward momentum, North Branch Area Hockey Association Vice President Tom Garin and Arena Project Manager Craig Moline sat down with the Stacy City Council. What ensued was the verbal equivalent of high sticking.

The parties were trying to finalize a purchase agreement at the meeting, but were unable to move forward. Garin began with questions regarding providing platting for the land that the association will be purchasing. Stacy must sell the land to the NBAHA for the association to qualify for conventional bank funding for the project.

Stacy City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer said he has responded twice to the question, and that a preliminary and a final plat can be combined to get it done more quickly. The next questions regarding payment of park fees and easements resulted in verbal sparring over costs, footage and responsibilities. An appraisal still hasn’t been done, and Moline said he thought that may take up to 60 days to accomplish. The city has yet to approve rezoning, as well.

The association representatives were reminded of the need to complete an application for the subdivision of the land. Garin expressed frustration with the process, saying the association feels stuck; they are trying to get the purchase done, but the city won’t sign the purchase agreement that the NBAHA needs in order to obtain its funding. Grundhoefer replied that a purchase agreement can go forward with contingencies; some of the details the city is pressing for can be worked out on the promise that these will be finalized by the time of the sale. The purchase agreement has been written. The city has to review it with the certificate of survey and once this is handed over to the city, it can be signed.

“And then we move forward with all the other stuff,” Mayor Mark Utecht said.

The deal is subject to a public hearing, and Utecht said the public hearing will be put on hold pending the appraisal to assure taxpayers the city is not giving away land.

“We all got here with open eyes with the ground lease we thought was going to get this thing done. I want to get us out of this circumstance, to get it completed,” Utecht said.

Grundhoefer said typically a project like this would require some security to ensure site preparation is done.

“I myself don’t want to put any additional burden on them to come up with any more security; we don’t have any security right now, Utecht said. “I don’t want to add this hoop for them to jump through right now.”

It has been years since the NBAHA and Stacy city officials broke ground for a hockey arena, but the project has stalled since that point. NBAHA officials departed the meeting with cordial assurances between the parties that there will be progress in getting the deal done and the arena construction back on track.

Stacy council moves to fill seat on temporary basis

At the beginning of the regular meeting, Utecht noted Stacy Councilor Cindy Bruss was absent. At the close of the meeting, the mayor began a discussion of the empty chair next to him. City Clerk Sharon Payne verified upon inquiry that Bruss has missed four meetings. Stacy policy states that upon three months of a member’s absence, the city can declare the seat vacant. Payne clarified that while Bruss has missed four meetings, it was not within a three-month period yet.

Utecht confirmed he had tried to contact Bruss that day, but he was told she was “unavailable.”

Councilor Michael Carlson said policy or law dictates a temporary council member can be appointed until a regular member can resume his or her duties. Utecht said he would like to appoint a temporary immediately. The city could ask for letters of interest and appoint an applicant at the September meeting.

Utecht made a motion that, provided it is allowed, the city will solicit letters of interest from citizens interested in filling the seat temporarily. Councilor Jim Ness asked for publication in the Post Review.

Lucia asked if the temporary appointee would finish out the term if Bruss didn’t return. Payne said that depends, but there is language in state statute that speaks to this, which she will research and then use to confirm the process. Payne will also send a letter to Bruss explaining what steps the council is taking regarding her absence.

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