The City of Amery met March 16 as a Committee of the Whole. This allowed members of the city’s committees to meet using procedural rules that are based on those of a committee. Discussion on topics took place for recommendations to be made for the City Council to vote on at future meetings.
During this time several Department Heads gave their reports. City Administrator Patty Bjorklund said new water and sewer rates are underway. She also said votes can be cast for the spring election April 6 from 7a.m. to 8p.m.
Police Chief Tom Marson said there has been an increase of Juvenile calls during the month of March, especially at learning institutions. “Primarily students being disorderly. I certainly hope this is not indicative of trends for the upcoming months, although we generally see an increase in calls as the weather warms,” he said. Marson said the new K9 squad should be on the road by early May and shared Severe Weather Week is April 12-16 and said Wisconsin averages between 23 tornadoes a year. The city has multiple tornado sirens.
Public Works Director Jeff Mahoney said some older equipment had been replaced at the sewer plant. He also said there is a dam inspection coming up. The inspection takes place every two years. The crew recently repaired a water main break on Central Street and Howard Avenue at Mahoney said the repair went pretty well.
Baird Capital provided a presentation concerning the city’s General Obligation Debt and Outstanding Debt Service for the City Center project. A timeline was presented and Baird relayed the City of Amery has an A+ bond credit rating.
The Committee of the Whole made a recommendation to see what the figures would be to borrow $4.25M for the City Center project.
During a previous Finance Committee meeting, Dick Waterman was present to speak about increasing tipping costs at the Polk County Recycling Center for the companies that haul recycling to them. It now costs $70 a ton. Thus far, Waterman has been eating the cost. At the previous meeting discussions took place over what the solution could be for the matter. Council member Tim Strohbusch said he had Bjorklund look into their contract with Waterman’s Sanitation and found that Waterman’s is responsible for tipping fees. “If it is a contract thing, we need to fix the contract, not just reimburse for the tipping fee,” said Strohbush. He also wanted data showing how much of Waterman’s recycling was actually from the City of Amery itself.
Council member Sarah Flanum said it had been discussed whether a recycling fee should be added to city resident’s bills as now they are only billed for trash removal. Waterman’s could supply a recycling tote to only those who wanted it and then the City would know who to bill for the service.
Council President Rick Van Blaricom brought up that if people bring their recycling to the large bins behind the fire station, they get the service for free.
Strohbush said that if people paid for the service, they would be paying for the convenience of not having to drive to the downtown receptacles.
Waterman was present at the current meeting and said he had questioned drivers who relayed about 40 percent of residents are currently putting recycling out by the curbs. He said it does increase during summer months, so he projects his tipping fees will increase as well.
Mayor Paul Isakson asked, “What is the future of recycling going to be?”
Waterman responded that milk jugs and tin cans have some value at the moment.
“I think the education is what they should be steering toward,” said Waterman.
He said they need someone at the big recycling bins telling people to separate Styrofoam from plastic. “That is recycling. When you stuff it all together it is not,” he said. He added people need to be told to rinse the ketchup and mayo out of their containers.
Strohbush asked if separate recycling bins for those who want them are available? Waterman said they are not yet, but they will be (possibly by July).
Van Blaricom said the Woman’s Club has been a strong supporter of recycling and thought they might be willing to be part of the education portion of the process.
“There is more to this proposal than just Cherry Street, although that is one of the main ones,” said Van Blaricom. He said having the street closed at least on a temporary basis during the road construction would help alleviate cars backing up on Harriman. He also felt they should put “No Parking” on the east side of Harriman Avenue from Elm Street to Deronda.
No parking at all on Burman from Highway 46 to the north end of Harriman Avenue.
Strohbush asked if this was just for construction or permanent?
“TBD,” replied Van Blaricom.
Councilperson Eric Elkin said, “At this point it is for construction.”
Strohbush brought up permanently closing Cherry Street has been discussed before. There have been many accidents at the intersection of Cherry and 46, across from McDonalds. Isakson said they should see what happens with the temporary closing of it and go from there.
Isakson said the city’s attorney Paul Mahler has contacted the attorney for the Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail (SSLST). The attorney for Friends of the SSLST asked if Amery was interested in being part of the current lawsuit. Isakson said his opinion on that was “no” but he would like the city’s bicycle and pedestrian plan to be a part of the county’s plan. Isakson said later in the lawsuit the city can get involved at the appellate level to relay their dissatisfaction the way the Stower Trail matter has been handled.
Lakes District Update
Council member Chad Leonard gave an update concerning the Lakes District. He said the Clean Boats/Clean Waters group, which pays for people to watch over the boat landings at Pike and North Twin from a grant will be sponsored by the City of Amery.
There has been discussion about passing an ordinance pertaining to the use of North Twin and Pike Lakes. The Lakes District will start with signage and education regarding usages and rules.
$15,000 has been allocated by the Lakes District for shoreline restoration projects. A subcommittee has been formed to discuss the allocation.
The city has been approached to see if they had any interest in improving their canoe/kayak entrance and exit around the dam. County literature will now list Amery as part of a canoe trail. Van Blaricom thought improvements to entrance/exits would be a good idea and the rest of the council agreed.
Strohbush said city staff is working on a developer’s agreement where the city would initially front the cost of improvements (streets, sewer, etc.). The developers would repay the cost, but it would alleviate the developers having so many immediate costs.
Paul Shafer said other communities similar to the size of Amery were doing the same thing. It said it could be quite helpful to bring in more housing, which Amery is in need of.
Flanum said after much discussion the Amery Public Library would start opening for one-hour computer use appointments. Books are available for curbside pickup or also by making a browsing appointment.
Wisconsin Avenue water lines
Mahoney said a water line for some houses on Wisconsin Avenue runs under the parking lot of Dental Arts. Since the parking lot has been shaved down, the water line freezes in the winter. Homeowners may not want to run water constantly to prevent this from happening. One solution may be to move the water lines from those homes to Arch Street.