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Council discusses ball diamond location

By Staff | Aug 5, 2016

A new local committee is set to look into the possibility of setting up a recreational baseball and softball complex in a new location.

Rugby residents Timothy Bartsch, Jr. (the son of Ward 3 Councilman Timothy Bartsch, Sr.) and Jacob Nelson met with the Rugby City Council Monday evening to discuss the state of the current recreational diamonds on 4th St. SW as well as inquire as to the possibility of forming an exploratory committee to look for a new location.

Ward 2 Councilman Randy Fossum asked if the current location poses issues.

“Depends on who you ask,” Bartsch Jr. said.

Bartsch Jr. said that purchasing and installing drain tile had been discussed, but the diamonds were in tough shape now and that he was unsure the tile would fix drainage issues.

“(The current location) is built in a slough,” Bartsch Jr. said.

Rugby resident Steve Mueller said the changing ground in the current location presents potential liability issues.

Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Shelley Block said the Chamber hosted softball tournaments in the current location and received few complaints.

“The problem is the area isn’t properly maintained,” Block said.

Rugby resident Nathan Kunde said he would like to see a committee formed, and that there would be people in the community who would support it.

Ward 1 Councilman Neil Lotvedt said that building up the current location would be an idea, however construction efforts would “eat up” what was put into roads in the current location, citing a “wet cycle” in the area that would need to dry.

Public Works Supervisor Rick Larson disagreed.

“There’s no such thing as a ‘dry cycle’ down there,” Larson said. “It’s like drying up a sponge.”

In the current location, diamonds one and four are abandoned.

Utility rates increase

The council approved fee increases for water treatment and supply, sanitary sewer, storm water, landfill and infrastructure maintenance funds. The minimum rate for water supply is $20 per month, plus a $5 rate per 1,000 gallons of water. The minimum rate for sanitary sewer is $9 per month, plus a $1 rate per 1,000 gallons of water usage. The minimum rate for storm water projects, infrastructure, maintenance and diversion (formerly called flood control) is $3 per month. Surcharges for landfill and infrastructure repair and maintenance are 50 cents and $4 per month, respectively.

City Auditor Elizabeth Heisey said that money would be needed as the city has a 40 percent cost share for phase two of the water plant maintenance projects as well as a sewer maintenance project coming in the future.

Ward 2 Councilman Gary Kraft said that the city has the lowest sewer rates in the state “in a lot of cases.”

Lotvedt asked if the new rates just affect residents, or whether it would affect hotels as well. Heisey said the city doesn’t currently have a commercial rate for water and sewer.

The council also approved a $2 per meter per month franchise fee for customers of Otter Tail Power Company. Monies raised would be deposited in the city’s Highway & Streets fund, and would pay for street lights.

Lotvedt said the city currently pays Otter Tail $41,000 a year for streetlights, and with revenue decreases “there’s no profit.”

A vote for a franchise fee was not approved last year.

Other actions

The council approved a transfer of liquor license contingent of purchase of Crook’s Lounge for Steven Mattern.

The council discussed sirens with Fire Chief Will Griffin and Pierce County Emergency Manager Kelsey Siegler.

The council voted to table a petition to vacate an alleyway signed by Kunde, Leah Lehman, Amber Sattler and Mark Simonson, and to send to the planning and zoning committee for approval.

The council approved a payment of $39,756.66 to Zimmerman Construction as part of a progressive estimate on the city crack sealing project.

The council approved July meeting minutes, bills, financial statements, Municipal Judge’s report and Job Development Authority board minutes.

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