Shelter issue placed on hold

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council has tabled the animal shelter issue until a committee has enough information to make a recommendation on it.

On Monday, Councilman Glenn Gaylord recalled some history.

“It was my idea to combine the Humane Society with the city,” he said.

“We do have some problems,” he said, listing tracking, fees, availability of the Humane Society personnel and dangerous dogs.

The kennel itself is small and used to house animals from all over the county, Gaylord noted.

“In my opinion, it’s just not working,” he said. “We need to go back to what we had before. It’s Blue Earth’s kennel; it should be just for Blue Earth’s problems.”

He asked council members for their opinions.

John Huisman suggested the issue be tabled to give the committee time to formulate a recommendation.

“We’ve been working on it all winter and haven’t gotten anywhere,” Gaylord said.

“We’re under an agreement with the Humane Society through 2013,” Huisman said, “so we have time to work this out.”

The council voted to table the issue, but Gaylord wanted to discuss banning dogs from the playground in Putnam Park, citing droppings and dangerous dogs.

Mayor Rick Scholtes said that is a separate work session topic.

Moving on to street construction, City Engineer Wes Brown said the grass that has not grown after construction on Eighth and Moore in 2008, Tenth and Moore in 2009, and Fourth Street in 2010 remains an issue for residents.

Brown spoke to lawn care specialists, and the general consensus is that it is best to plant grass seed in the fall. The experts say it can be done in the spring, but should be done by mid-May.

“It’d be tight to do it by May,” Brown said.

He suggested sending out a mailing to property owners, asking if they would like to sign up for re-seeding or opt out.

“Part of the reason for them to sign up is for us to know how much to put out to bid,” said Kathy Bailey, city administrator.

The council approved seeding in the fall and sending out letters to property owners in late May.

In other business, the council considered expanding Faribault County Fitness Center.

Bailey explained that membership has increased to the point where space and crowding has become a major complaint, as well as a safety hazard.

Both locker rooms are crowded. The weight room also is crowded with more people waiting to use equipment, and the equipment itself spaced too closely together. Also, the weight room is still on the second floor, making it difficult for seniors and those rehabilitating from injuries to access it. The tennis court is being used for classes.

The proposed expansion would add 5,112 square feet of space. It would be added to the east of the current center, and be a pre-fab concrete structure.

The expansion would include two larger locker rooms, the business office, a weight area and the cardio machines. The old locker rooms would be turned into an exercise classroom.

Michelle Hall, director of the fitness center, said the expansion would benefit operation.

“We’ll be gaining a ton of user-friendly space,” Hall said. “We can utilize all of it. Now, it’s a struggle; the original building was never meant to have a weight room up there. It’s not comfortable to use at all.”

Gaylord asked if membership would rise to help offset the price.

“Yes, seniors will utilize it more,” Hall said. “We can put more machines in there. The weight areas are always crowded.”

The council discussed the finer points of concrete versus steel construction before Bailey asked the council to consider whether it wanted to proceed with the project, and how it would be financed. Scholtes placed the item on the agenda for May 6.