June 21, 2021

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Council discuss Elk Lake lifeguard issue

The Hoffman City Council held their monthly meeting on May 10. Agenda items included finding lifeguards, dumpster enclosures, building variances, and replacing or improving street signs.

Before the formal meeting was called to order,  the council held a brief special session to determine two requests for fencing around yards, one on 6th Street South,  the other on Kentucky Avenue where it intersects with Grant County Highway 5. Both were passed with minimal discussion.

The first issue in the regular meeting revolved around drainage issues with the city’s baseball diamond. There was also discussion about who does the seeding and who does the compacting. (The city is responsible for the seeding.)

“Summer Rec is a month away, so we need to stay on top of that.” stated Janee Strunk, city clerk. She read from an email written by Brian Bye of the Hoffman Economic Development Authority (HEDA) “We discussed the drainage ditch that runs across the eastside of the park and the homes on the west side of 6th Street. The ditch not only conveys stormwater from the park but also stormwater from sections of Iowa, 4th, 5th, 6th Street, and Colorado Avenue. The city storm drain discharges into the north end of the ditch and flows into the south end of this ditch where it enters a storm ditch pipe and ultimately discharges into the Chippewa River. This ditch is in need of cleaning. Years of sediment buildup have impeded flow and ultimately caused the ditch to retain water. This water becomes stagnant and causes drainage odors and mosquito issues. Since the ditch along the North side is no longer needed due to the tiling project, material excavated from the east ditch could be used to fill the north ditch, which could be seeded and mowed with the rest of the park. This would solve the water and stagnation issue in the north ditch.” 

She stated a price for the project at $1500.

Perhaps the most pertinent issue to the community at large was the lack of a lifeguard for the Elk Lake beach north of the city. While there was one application, a minimum of two people are needed to fill the position. The absence of a lifeguard does not call for the beach’s closure, but rather warning signs for increased adult supervision. The council discussed removing the diving board but keeping the actual diving tower, and clearing out the water slide from the beach so there is no temptation to put it back in the water. City clerk Strunk had obtained quotes for the cost of larger new warning signs at sixty dollars and fifteen for the smaller ones closer to the beach.

Some lighter moments happened in the approval of a zoning permit for the building of a combined garage and workshop close to an adjacent property, both owned by Bert Huntley, who was present at the meeting. “Do I have to get permission from myself to myself to build this?” he quipped. After that moment of levity, a council member brought up the potential complication of  selling one of the lots. Dianne Johnson of HEDA pointed out that a special clause regarding the issue could be included in the purchase agreement. Three other zoning permits were discussed without the petitioners present. Two were approved without discussion. One had been withdrawn by the owner.

Among other issues discussed were the need for new street signs, several of which are in disrepair or outright missing, which the council decided to delay discussion of until next year, when it could be included in the budget.  Rodger Smith, city maintenance director, gave a report on the need for new well pumps, stating that the 21 year-old city pump went way beyond its expected eight year lifespan, and the resignation of Sam Richards as board member and secretary of HEDA.

The meeting adjourned after an hour and 45 minutes.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Thomas Hiatt has been added to the Herald reporting staff.

 Since coming out to attend The University of Minnesota, Morris, he has lived in West Central Minnesota for close to 30 years. Hiatt enjoys writing for several area papers. Although he is from Minneapolis, he considers himself an honorary country boy, covering the Stevens County Board of Commissioners meetings.

“I  consider it an honor to write for the beautiful city of Hoffman.”