At their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 13, the Wahkon council pondered the potential problem of bare skin at Bare Ass Beach, discussed purchasing a used snow plow truck and passed a familiar-sounding resolution regarding the boundaries of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Bare Ass Beach
Heading into the evening’s meeting, the city had planned to install a new sign at Bare Ass Beach proudly advertising its name. But having some reservations, councilor Tony Button voiced his concern that a sign with such language could lead to abuses in the form of possible nudity.
Button shared an anecdotal story about a park that had a similar name, and patrons, believing the name of the park gave them permission, began playing topless volleyball.
“You know every time we give someone an inch in this town, they take a foot,” Button said.
“Maybe we just don’t name it?” councilor Ronda Bjornson suggested, eluding to scrapping the idea of an official sign.
Councilor Rick Roberts added his two cents that a sign with such a name would probably be a prime target for thieves.
Frustrated, but appearing to all agree, the council voted unanimously to refrain from installing a sign, hoping not to draw undue attention to the beach, something they felt was the best course of action at this time.
Maintenance supervisor Chris Weinreich reminded the council that his department’s snow plowing truck was a 1995 model and that plowing snow with it was very laborious, requiring multiple passes. To reduce labor and minimize the chance of future breakdowns, Weinreich suggested that the council begin seriously thinking about investing in a new (used) truck and plow combo.
Weinreich explained that he has been talking with the City of Taylors Falls regarding a plow truck they are looking to sell, which has plow blades that would be ideal for the City of Wahkon.
In order for Chris to be able to begin discussing a price and perform a vehicle inspection, Taylors Falls requested a letter of intent to show Wahkon was serious about the prospect of purchasing the truck.
The council approved a letter of intent to be sent to Taylors Falls. Weinreich will work to find out more about the unit and see what its price range would be.
Strikingly similar to resolutions they have made in the past, the council passed a resolution, No. 2019-0513, that reaffirmed “the city’s position regarding the Mille Lacs Reservation boundary.”
Verbiage on the resolution stated that the council agrees with the State of Minnesota and County of Mille Lacs that the “Mille Lacs Reservation was disestablished through federal treaties and laws” in the past. Additional, it noted that the city council “will continue to make efforts to prevent the City of Wahkon from becoming part of the Mille Lacs Band’s government and/or part of its sovereign state.”
A resident of 4th Street was in attendance at the meeting to voice her concerns about a perpetually wet ditch that she believes is not functioning properly.
“I just think something needs to be done,” the resident said, explaining that the ditch’s standing water prevents her from being able to mow and also creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Prior to the meeting, mayor Sandy Reichel had driven past the resident’s property to observe the issue firsthand, and also made a point to drive by many other ditches within city limits.
“The problem is not just your yard,” Reichel said to the resident, referencing photos she had taken of the ditches, which were included in the evening’s agenda packet.
“All of the ditches are wet,” Button added. “Mine’s wet, everyone’s is wet.”
Reichel told the resident that the council can’t justify upgrading ditches at this time because they are working with the USDA to get funding for an engineering study for a future stormwater management system.
The resident, apparently displeased with the council’s response and direction of conversation, abruptly left the meeting during the ditch conversation.
“I know she left and I’m sorry she’s upset,” Reichel said. “But I’m just afraid if we (improve) one (ditch), where does it stop? They’re all over town and I don’t think we can do it fairly.”
• The council approved payments for membership with the Minnesota Association of Small Cities, and for Roeschlein to partake in financial officers training.
• Button made a motion to have Roeschlein write a letter to the state suggesting that the Minnesota Department of Transportation should have a “team for snowmobiles and ATVs” that would advocate for their uses and trail systems. Button was displeased that snowmobiles and ATVs had to pay registration, while primarily not using public roads, but that bicyclists did not pay annual registrations while they regularly use public roads. The motion was seconded. Roeschlein will send a letter stating the council’s suggestion.
• The zoning administrator has advised the council to involve their attorney regarding a property that built a porch addition pulling a permit, and thus far has not paid the fine for doing so.
• Button informed the council that WAVE would be willing to split the cost of purchasing a pontoon barge for use during fireworks if the city would meet their donation. The council agreed, noting that shooting the fireworks from the bay would be the best option for local viewing. The total expense is expected to be less than $1000.