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Neighbors weigh in on fate of the old airport

The Wadena city council discussed issues affecting the old airport neighborhood and Fair Oaks Apartments during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Brad Morgan, who proposed an amphitheatre at the old airport through his company B&M Promotions, was not able to make it to the council meeting, due to a family emergency. The use of the old airport for concerts has been tabled until the next regular council meeting set for June 12.

The council heard the comments of citizens who had arrived to the meeting about the old airport issue.

Wadena resident Mike Snyder said the area by the proposed amphitheatre was a nice, quiet neighborhood and they were all opposed to the project. He also said it would change the campground nearby and only one person he had talked to in the neighborhood was not opposed to it.

Henry Johnson who lives near the airport, said he could not see anything good come out of it, and it would be an irritation on everyone's weekend.

Dwayne Moore, another neighbor, said it was difficult to assess what Morgan wants since he was not present, but people had told him they were opposed.

Matthew Parker said he was curious to hear what Morgan had planned, and concurred with others that it was a nice quiet neighborhood.

The quorum of three council members present said they had also received calls from people expressing opposition to the amphitheatre.

In another issue related to the old airport, the council took no action on a request for Bev McManigle to lease a small piece of city property for a nominal fee next to her property to build a septic system.

Because of new regulations, McManigle would have to either build the septic system 100 feet from her sandpoint well or relocate the well itself in an expensive process.

Wadena Development Authority director Dean Uselman said he didn't like the idea of dumping someone's liability on city property, and there was an option to look into Region 5 low interest loans for wells.

Council member Toby Pierce said they don't need a motion and are not denying, but just looking into options for now.

The council also reconvened the board of review for changes in some property tax assessments, accepting all the proposed changes, except for reducing Fair Oaks Apartments (Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Parcel 22.088.1015) from $1,049,200 total to $920,000 total.

Previously, the total 2011 assessment payable 2012 was $568,800.

Pierce, who made the motion, expressed concern that the initial higher proposed increase would raise senior citizens' rent in the form of taxes passed on to them.

Licenses and permissions

Family Dollar was approved for a cigarette license to start selling tobacco products.

With only the acting mayor and two other council members, both Pierce and council member Don Niles said they were reluctant to second a motion for cigarettes, and wanted to make each other do it. Niles talked about having asthma as a child and his four-year-old brother running around the bowling alley asking people not to smoke when he was around.

Acting Mayor Jeanette Baymler and City Administrator Brad Swenson said regardless of their feelings on tobacco, Family Dollar did what it was supposed to do, and the council can't pick on just one business.

Additionally massage therapy license was granted for Julia Ziese, contingent on her getting the rest of her documents together.

The VFW will hold its ninth annual Honor Ride on Saturday, July 14, and the council approved for First Street Southeast from Colfax Ave. and Bryant Ave. to be blocked off that day. Access to the post office driveway and half of the parking lot next to the VFW building will be allowed.

The VFW was also approved for temporary liquor licenses for the Wadena County Fair, taking place June 27-30, and the Sept. 8 demolition derby, also taking place at the fairgrounds.

Bids and grants

Evergreen Equipment of Wadena had the lower of two bids for an airport tractor and lawn mower purchase.

Public Works Director Ron Bucholz said the city rarely gets chances like this to purchase this kind of equipment locally.

The city approved the purchase, contingent on receiving a grant which would cover 60 percent of the cost. The city would pick up 40 percent, or $30,993.75, which was lower than the budgeted amount of $40,000.

The council also approved a terms and conditions agreement in order to be qualified for airport grants through the FAA.

The council approved the nearly annual application for a DNR grant for the fire department.

New hire and promotions

Warren Boen was hired out of 12 applicants for the firefighter position that opened when Mac Nelson resigned.

Boen is the owner and operator of Bearings and More.

Fire Chief Dean Uselman said Boen had shown interest in being a firefighter for a while and always was a strong candidate.

Uselman also said several firefighters were eligible to retire soon, and there will be more openings.

Police Chief Bruce Uselman said there were 87 applications for one open police officer position, and they hadn't had time to go through them and make a decision yet.

Also, City employee step increases from step 5 to step 6 were approved for Shannon Gangruth, Mike Cottrell and Norm Pettis during the meeting.

Department reports

Dean Uselman, as Wadena Development Authority director and Planning and Zoning director, said there have been some changes in building ownership and use in Wadena.

"The hospital purchased the Wadena TV Center building," he said.

The building will be used as therapy space.

Hinkle Realty is purchasing the building currently occupied by the Long-Term Recovery Committee, which will in turn move into the basement of the Bernauer building. The main floor is home to An Open Book and Harvest Thyme Bistro.

As fire chief, Uselman also said two firefighters had returned to Wadena from the National Guard.

Public Works Director Ron Bucholz said Youthbuild groups that were in town Wednesday through Friday of the previous week had worked on a variety of projects in the parks.

"There are a lot of good kids," Baymler said.

She also brought up the merger of Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council, with Mahube Community Action Council based in Detroit Lakes. She said the New York Mills office will not be used anymore, and some people from that office lost their jobs.

"These mergers are always supposed to save money, and I don't think they ever do," she said.