Discussion of potential tree removal at the south end of the Isle Airport, located in the air easement in which airport officials state is a hazard to flight paths, continued with more intensity at the last Isle City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
The trees in question grow on the property of Nancy Rizer-Schmidt. Her daughter, Amy Goplen, came to speak against the possible tree removal.
“For any of you aware of my mother’s pride of her gardens … this has caused my mom sleepless nights,” said Goplen. “Stop blaming the trees for the accident that took the pilot’s life in 2003. It said pilot error in the report.”
She said the biggest reason they would like to keep the trees is that there will be an increase in noise and loss of a wind break. Goplen also said they have observed planes taking off on the opposite side of where the trees are and questioned why the trees would have an impact on the flight paths.
A member of the audience asked if it was possible that the planes were on the other side because they needed to avoid the trees. “It’s not a good situation,” she added in response.
Patrick Moenkhaus, secretary of the Isle Flying Club, said, “The easement was put there for safety … it’s just a matter of time before there’s another mishap.”
Don Dahlen, an Isle council member, stated, “The air easement gives the city certain rights, and these trees do go in the easement area. There is a judgment from 1974 where a judge acknowledges the city has an easement.”
The city’s attorney, Damien Toven, added, “I’ve reviewed the documentation, and there is an easement and you need to get a survey done.”
It was stated that a survey of the property, costing approximately $4,000, is necessary to determine accurate boundaries, ground elevations and tree top elevations.
Council member Bob Koelfgen stated that it is his understanding that the city would be liable for a crash occurring due to lack of enforcement of the easement requirements.
Moenkhaus stated, “We, as the airport, are asking the city to enforce the easement as a matter of safety.”
A letter of support of the airport easement enforcement was included in the council packet from Daniel I. Johnson, with the preface that he is friends with Nancy Rizer-Schmidt but worries each time he visits Isle that he might fall into her pines if an invisible adverse wind gust hits at the wrong moment. He encouraged Rizer-Schmidt, in his letter, to “accept the association’s offer to help beautify her lot after tree removal” as this would “make the airport safer.”
Mayor Rodney Schultz said the council would have to table the discussion until a survey was completed. Discussion regarding who would pay for the survey took place, and a motion was passed to move forward with completing the survey if the finances become available.
A motion was also passed to move forward with drilling a well at no cost to the city.
Donations were approved from the Mille Lacs Drift Skippers in the amount of $500 for the Pass Thru - Isle Days Kids Rodeo, from “name withheld” in the amount of $2,000 for the police department’s equipment reserve fund, from CenterPoint Energy in the amount of $2,500 for the police department equipment grant, from McQuoids Inn in the amount of $500 for the police department, and from Tracy Madsen in the amount of $100 for the fire department.
Traffic control on Malone Island was discussed. One local resident said, “There is a lot of speeding, and I would like to see a sign before going on the bridge that says 20 mph. People are not controlling their speed.”
Mayor Schultz asked city staff if they could put a few more signs out in the area, and they responded they could. The resident thanked the council for the “no jumping off bridge” signs and said it has made a difference.
Census reporting was also brought up. Isle City Clerk/Treasurer Jamie Hubbell said, “We want to make sure the public is aware that the census is going to be coming around, and it’s important because the responses affect our funding from the state and LGA (local government aid). Don’t throw it away because it’s easy to do.”
Discussion of the water tower removal took place. Engineer for the City of Isle, Tim Ramerth, said the cost would likely be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.
Ramerth said he met with the DNR regarding the potential Father Hennepin State Park sewer hook up with the city’s system. He said they want to make sure the wastewater treatment facility could handle it and that the DNR would help pay. “Initial indications are that they will reimburse the city for some of those fees,” he added.