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Oct. 23 conference in Aitkin will bring together players to plan

Aitkin will be working to have city recreational trails become part of the statewide trail system, along with Cuyuna and Northland Arboretum trails.

Little Falls is establishing a leg that will also connect with Brainerd.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for Aitkin,” said Mayor Gary Tibbitts at the Oct. 7 meeting of the city council. “The state will help with funding and design.”

A meeting of leglislators, planners and local goverment officials is planned for Oct. 23. Aitkin is being asked to support the Riverton to Brainerd segment.  

“Even though Crosby has had a head start on other regional players, Aitkin is definitely a key part of this project,” said Tibbitts.

The city council moved to declare the Oct. 23 meeting a special meeting of the city council. Bob Nicko mentioned the Soo grade was part of the trail. Nicko said many of the railway easements have been lost over time, both for the Soo grade and some other trail segments.

Next steps will include  working to get funding, design and planning assistance going forward.  

The Hwy. 210 corridor and Cedar Lake Trails, will all be on the table for being integrated into this statewide system, said Tibbitts.

City administration relocation

The council had previously left the decision about where to relocate city administrative staff and operations up to the facilities committee. The committee is continuing to  evaluate locations other than the  Butler Building, in order to find the most appropriate space. Rent and utilities as well as the configuration of the space are being considered.

The Aitkin Crosby Mattress retail space is becoming available at a more affordable price, so the committee took at look at that space.

There are a number of positive attributes to the Crosby Mattress space.Council member Amanda Lowe wants to check to make sure there are no conflicts of interest, so the council will wait until the next meeting to make a formal resolution.

Phase 1 of the parking lot project includes investigating whether there are any hidden issues, buried tanks, sewer connections and so on. Nicko has obtained one estimate for the removal of the concrete, which was roughly $40,000. Clearing now and blacktopping in the spring is the current plan, said Nicko.  

Council member Kathy Galliger would like to see power connected and public activities like the farmers’ market move across to the west side of Minnesota Ave. City Attorney Henry Brucker continues to be in contact with the facilities committee as the project progresses.

There was a request to have a public restroom be part of the rebuild of the former creamery site; council discussed that proposal and decided that the city was not willing to take on a large additional project like that at this time.  Special events in the downtown area are required to provide portable toilets at this time.

City Hall insurance claim

Presidential Roofing is going to patch the holes that are in the roof right now to prevent any damage to the building.  The city is trying to get a second quote to replace the section of the roof that needs a complete replacement. The existing warranty will not be affected as long as the work is done by a DuraLast company. The major part of the roof work can then be completed in the spring.

Open Positions

Both the City Parks and Maintenance and City Administrator positions remain unfilled. The Parks position is being held open until the City Administrator position is filled, so that there will be adequate supervision in place for the new employee.

Human resources committee members agreed to hold off on the city administrator appointment and just post internally to fill the city clerk position for a minimum of two years instead.

They interviewed five candidates and didn’t end up with a candidate they felt was the right person for the city. Hiring right now, without a city administrator, would not make sense, said Kathy Galliger.

The city administrator position was posted far and wide, and there were candidates who applied from other states and even other countries.

Special Deer Hunt

The city obtained permission to extend the city archery hunt, because the goal harvest was not reached. The hunt has been going well so far, with no issues being reported.

Next meeting

The next city council meeting will be Oct. 21 at the Aitkin Public Library Community Room.

Aitkin City Council Briefs

• Mayor Tibbitts proclaimed Oct. 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in Aitkin. This day is observed annually in the United States. It is a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death which includes, but is not limited to, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS or the death of a newborn.

• The city granted a conditional use permit (CUP) to Paulbeck’s Real Property, LLC  for the construction of an addition to the south side of the existing Paulbeck’s County Market property. The Commercial Highway Zoning District (C) has a maximum impervious surface of 50%, however there is leeway for that to be increased by up to 25%. not to exceed 75% of the property area, through a CUP. No one attended the public hearing.

• The “Make Your Mark, Support Your Park” Hockey rink fundraising effort recently obtained an additional $15,000 in grants.

• Aitkin Fire Department Fire Relief fund is donating $4,000 this year rather than the usual $8,000 to the Fireworks fund.  The fireworks committee meeting is scheduled for Nov. 4 .  Assistant Fire Chief Mike Arnold volunteered his time to help with fundraising for Independence Day fireworks.

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