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Blackduck Council hears concerns on blighted property; Industrial Lane assessment

The council approved the Adventure Jungle by Midwest Playscapes, Inc. at a total cost of $28,600, however, with the discount give to the city, the cost would be around $14,000 plus tax.

The Blackduck City Council met March 4 with two members absent but still took care of the business at hand.

Resident Kurt Benson came before the council during the forum part of the meeting, asking once again what was going to be done to the blighted property in town.

As soon as Mayor Jason Riggs asked the audience in attendance was there anyone who would be speaking at the public forum, Benson spoke up.

"I was wondering what is gonna happen," he began. "I drove around town for 20 minutes and I saw that nothing has been done to the blighted property, one in particular."

Benson made reference to the property that sits between the fitness center and the laundromat which is owned by former Blackduck mayor Scott Palmer.

"I have taken all the necessary steps," Benson said. "And I have filled out all the necessary paperwork concerning this issue and I am not going to go away."

Benson had come before the council numerous times over the years to complain to the council about the state of the property in question and asked again, what the council was prepared to do about it.

"There has to be something the city can do," he said. "It is a danger to the school and to kids. I will not go away on this issue," he assured the council. "It's time to do something!"

Mayor Riggs admitted that the building has seen better days and asked if there had been any progress on it.

Blackduck City Administrator said that there has been some peaked interest in the property by various groups and that there was an interested buyer but that she was not aware of any more than that.

Benson kept after the council asking what they were prepared to do about not only that particular property but the other ones in town that were deemed blighted.

Some discussion ensued about the cost of bringing in someone to inspect the properties and who would pay the bill for it.

Riggs asked if he could get more information and directed Elhard to look into it before the next council meeting.

Next up on the agenda was a commendation for Blackduck Maintenance Supervisor Bob Klug Jr. for the waster water treatment plant by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Klug, who was not at the meeting, will receive his award March 24 during the award ceremony by the MPCA.

Following the approval of the bills, the council was updated on a request for $944 by Blackduck Youth Baseball.

Following a short discussion, the council approved the request.

Deb Allison from Bi-County CAP came before the council to voice her concerns regarding the assessment on Industrial Lane.

She explained to the council that Bi-CAP had purchased the Caring Hands Day Care from Anderson Fabrics in September of last year.

"At the time of the purchase, we were not aware of the resolution passed by the city to redo the street project," she said. "That means a $22,000 assessment for Bi-CAP. Property values are stagnant in Blackduck and have been for quite some time. We can't afford any more debt because of this."

Also on hand to following the proceedings concerning the Industrial Lane project was Steve Cochems from Anderson Fabrics.

Allison voiced her concerns over the amount that Bi-CAP was being assessment, saying that the day care facility wasn't able to pay more for taxes than they already do and asked wasn't there something that could be done.

Benson asked the council not to forget the procedures put into place for Railroad Ave. when it was assessed to be rebuilt.

"We couldn't afford it either and we ended up losing our property," he said. "They set the precedence already!"

"It will either be assessed or we refund the grant money," said councilman Daryl Lundberg. "I won't pass this on to the other taxpayers."

Mayor Riggs then suggested tabling the issue until the next council meeting.

"I am not comfortable with making any decisions on this until we have a full council," he said.

Allison and Cochems both thanked the council for listening to their concerns before taking their leave.

A flood insurance packet was next on the agenda and Elhard told the council that the timing of this was of the essence.

The council discussed a letter sent from Headwaters Regional Development Commission regarding flood insurance.

According to the letter received, Beltrami County Emergency Management is urging all cities to pursue enrollment in the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure that homeowners are eligible to purchase flood insurance if necessary.

While the insurance program doesn't cost the city anything, residents who desire to purchase flood insurance cannot do so without the city participating in the program.

"If we don't accept this then nobody in the city can get flood insurance," asked councilor Ted Falk. "Is this what I am understanding?"

He was told that, yes, that was what the program stated.

Following a short discussion on the matter, it was agreed upon to table the issue until Elhard could get more information together and bring it back to the council.

Next item on the agenda was a quote for playground equipment for the wayside rest area.

The council was presented three different designs before approving the Adventure Jungle by Midwest Playscapes, Inc.

The total cost of the package was $28,600 with a discount of $14,565 bringing the cost down to a little over $14,000 plus tax. Thanks to a grant the city received, the equipment would almost be paid for.

At a previous city council meeting, Dale Witt, representing the Blackduck Lions Club, told the council that once the club saw that the city was doing something towards the purchase of the playground equipment, they would kick in $1,000 or possibly more.

Discussion then centered around the addition of swings to the package which would add on an extra cost of around $1,000.

It was thought that this might possibly be something the Lions might be interested in purchasing with the extra funds Witt had mentioned when he stated that the club might be willing to kick in more than the $1,000 perviously mentioned.

Lundberg gave a report on what was happening with The Pond's patio. Following a short discussion, the council voted to approve spending up to $2,500 on putting in a patio area with picnic tables at The Pond in time for the barn dance that was to be held.

The last item to be put before the council was an update on the Lady Slipper Celebration. As this was only an F.Y.I. update, following a short discussion, the council meeting was adjourned.