At the Oct. 5 regular Aitkin City Council meeting,  members approved City Administrator Rose Beverly’s request to sign a lease on office space in the USDA office building in the Southgate shopping Center in Aitkin.

The property has been inspected and approval to sign is pending review by the city attorney.

The leased office space will house the city administration staff that recently moved out of another leased space.

The lease will be for three years with a three-month escape clause in the event a better location is found.

CITY SEWER

City council members unanimously approved spending $100,000 from existing funds (Fund 617) to complete the 2021 Sewer Lining project. The appropriation was approved by the Public Utilities Commission on Sept. 22.  

LAND PURCHASE

The PUC is looking at purchasing some property near the old Tibbetts Farm (east of the sewer plant).

When Beverly investigated, she found a Minnesota statute that stated that any land purchase done by the city has to be approved by the planning commission. Therefore, there will be a special meeting of the planning commission to approve the purchase. After that there will be a motion for the council to approve, rather than a resolution.

Council Member Kathy Galliger said that the land will provide a buffer between existing homes and a future expansion of the sewage treatment plant, should expansion ever be needed.

HOCKEY RINK PROJECT

A change order for the new hockey rink – the first for the project – was approved.

A deduction for a structural element that wasn’t needed was made, and that extended the time frame for slab completion to Sept. 30.

Boards will be going up around the future rink, located at the Aitkin City Park, soon, said engineer Phil Martin.

A second change order was for the  addition of a polyethylene vapor barrier that was not included in the original bid.

City Park Improvements Pay Request #1 and the two change orders were considered and approved together.

The city approved a conditional police officer employment offer. The Aitkin Police Department has someone it would like to hire; the conditional offer of employment will allow the city to move forward with testing and background checks.

FIRE CHIEF UPDATE

Chief Brian Pisarek reported that mostly mundane needs triggered fire department assistance calls in September. There have been 12 runs and 71 calls so far this year.  That is more than the typical year at this time.

The annual fire department meeting with township supervisors is coming up Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at the fire hall. Last year there was an agreement to update the contract; that discussion will take place and Pisarek  hopes is to have it signed by December.

Pisarek will put together a report for the council about the township meeting, so members do not need to attend.  The fire department will not go to the schools this year.

A training burn took place north of Aitkin at the end of August. There are plans to do another burn right behind the DNR building on the south edge of the city.  Council member Amanda Lowe attended the training burn and said it made her proud to be part of a small community that has such an “awesome volunteer fire department.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Mayor Gary Tibbitts signed a proclamation in support of Aitkin High School tennis courts being renamed in honor of Don Hagestuen. The mayor participated in a presentation by the new sign naming the Don Hagestuen  Tennis Courts.

Lowe thanked Bob Nicko and his street department team for the “great work” they have done to spruce up the city bandshell in the park across from the Fire Hall. Nicko is planning to retire soon, Lowe said, but he was not in attendance.

Two special event permits were approved for United Methodist Church; one for drive-in church services using the street and one for a Trunk or Treat Halloween event.

The police department has been involved in communications about the events, which will involve street closures.

Tibbitts and Beverly attended the League of Minnesota Cities conference. There was a presentation about CARES Act funding for municipalities.  “So many questions were answered for us. It was very, very worthwhile to go,” said Tibbitts.

The next city council meeting will be 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Aitkin Public Library.

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