Land, flooding dominate council discussionBy year’s end, the city Redevelopment Authority will have 40 additional acres of property for industrial development.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
By year’s end, the city Redevelopment Authority will have 40 additional acres of property for industrial development.
The City Council on Tuesday approved spending $800,000 in borrowed revenue to purchase land owned by Don Bergholm on Connors Point. Notes issued to purchase the property will be repaid through tax revenue generated by the tax increment district already established on the point.
The property is on the pocket side of Connors Point extending to the end of the strip of land beneath the Blatnik Bridge.
The deal will provide space for prospective and growing industries already located on Connors Point, said Port and Planning Director Jason Serck.
Exodus Machines is among those opportunities and is in the process of expanding to accommodate increased production of the company’s material handling machines to meet an alliance agreement with Caterpillar Inc.
Serck said he’s also had conversations with AMI Consulting Engineers, which specializes in marine engineering and is located near the end of Connors Point.
By having control of the property, Mayor Bruce Hagen said the city will have the ability to “formally and officially” market the land for development.
As part of the deal, Serck said the city would pay the property taxes owed for 2012.
In other business:
• Heard from a small group of residents affected by June flooding after the rain had stopped, seeking understanding for their claims being denied. The specific area affected was downstream of a ditch where a city worker removed a sanitary sewer cap, resulting in basements that survived the initial flooding, filling with sewer water late in the day, after the cap had been removed.
Gretchen Flaherty, one of the homeowners, said the group just wants to meet with the mayor to work with the city and avoid litigation — something that would drain both homeowners’ and city resources.
However, City Attorney Frog Prell said he advised Hagen not to meet with the residents.
Claims against the city are handled by a panel of appointed citizens with no affiliation to city government.
The committee was created in 2000 to de-politicize the claims process after flooding in 1999 resulted in the council spending many hours answering for the decision made by the city attorney, and finance, public works and human resources directors to deny the claims of about 60 residents who experienced basement backups during the 1999 storm.
Five citizens replaced the city department heads and were granted final authority over claims.
Hagen acknowledged the power of the mayor has diminished since his initial terms of office between 1975 and 1987, leaving him and the council unable to help residents.
“My dilemma is what to do about it,” Hagen said. “I’m just embarrassed to say, I just don’t know what to say.”
• Councilor Len Joyal who represents the city’s 6th District, announced he is resigning the elected post Dec. 27 because of health issues.
Councilor Warren Bender made a motion to seek letters of interest from residents living in the district to seek a possible replacement. The council approved the measure.
The seat is up for re-election in April. Contact the city clerk’s office at 715-395-7200 for more information.