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Council approves phase one of lake study by 6-2 vote

It was sink or swim for a Lake Mitchell restoration plan Monday night, and the City Council decided to keep the proposal afloat. The Mitchell City Council voted 6-2 during its regular meeting at City Hall to support a $73,725 preliminary study to...

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It was sink or swim for a Lake Mitchell restoration plan Monday night, and the City Council decided to keep the proposal afloat.

The Mitchell City Council voted 6-2 during its regular meeting at City Hall to support a $73,725 preliminary study to be used to restore Lake Mitchell and reduce its algae problems, with only Councilmen Dan Allen and Mel Olson opposing. Council members Marty Barington, Bev Robinson, Dave Tronnes, Steve Rice, Jeff Smith and Susan Tjarks supported the plan.

The plan was recommended by the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee, which spent one full year meticulously reviewing the proposal.

The $73,725 plan-of which a $70,725 fee remains as the city has already committed $3,000 to Omaha-based Fyra Engineering for the project-would define the 670-acre lake's problems, develop a nutrient mass balance, determine pollutant loads, develop a lake response model and initiate community-based planning. After some discussion, Tjarks motioned to approve.

"Well, I've listened through meetings and talked to people that know a lot more about this than I do, and I feel confident that this is our best hope," Tjarks said. "I feel like doing nothing is not an option."

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However, information provided at previous lake committee meetings have indicated the city will not receive a specific plan, design or costs associated with a full restoration during the initial phase. The second phase of the project would cost approximately $100,000 to $300,000 to develop a lake restoration plan, and a representative of Fyra Engineering said a full restoration project will cost millions.

Olson, who opposed the plan, said the city should buy land up the Firesteel Creek, which feeds into Lake Mitchell, to solve the problem. In the past, many locals have indicated agriculture runoff along the Firesteel is the source of the algae-causing phosphorus within the lake.

"This is my concern, I think the study-and it is a study-will determine this, that and the other thing," Olson said. "And then we will be either unable or unwilling to solve the problem."

Based on comments from council members at a September meeting, Olson and Allen are not alone in their opposition of the plan. During the most recent regular City Council meeting, the council decided to table the controversial plan due to overwhelming community opposition. Since then, the city held a public forum to educate locals about the proposal, but council members still indicated on Monday night that many residents have maintained their opposition.

Despite some public opposition, Robinson said the city needs experts to help solve the decades-old water quality issues at Lake Mitchell.

"We need to hire somebody that has the expertise to do a project like this," Robinson said.

But Olson was concerned that approving this first phase, which does not require a commitment to continue with Fyra's next phases, may never be followed through until the lake has improved.

"So I guess unless you're willing to see it all the way through to the end, then we might as well not even start down the road," Olson said.

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Before closing the discussion and holding a roll call vote, Robinson reminded the council the city has is required to keep Lake Mitchell as a backup water supply under its contract with B-Y Water, the company that provides water to the city from the Missouri River. Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell then reminded the council that Lake Mitchell water is used to irrigate the local soccer, baseball and softball complexes.

Prior to the vote, Smith said the city needs to trust the members appointed to the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee with their recommendation to the council, particularly after spending one year to review the plan.

"These people have taken the time, I believe, to try to understand and determine if it is something that is good for Mitchell," Smith said. "We can't get to the next step until we take this one."

Fifth Avenue to reopen Wednesday

Mitchell's latest major street reconstruction will come to a close Wednesday.

According to Deputy Public Works Director Terry Johnson, Fifth Avenue will be completely open for the first time since April, an announcement that was met with cheers from the City Council.

The full reconstruction of Fifth Avenue kicked off in April, keeping a section of the street closed from Burr Street to Main Street closed for much of the summer. The project included the replacement of old water mains and stormwater sewers, utilities which Johnson told The Daily Republic earlier this year were built during the 1920s.

In April, Johnson estimated the project would cost $1.47 million, approximately $680,000 less than initially budgeted for the project.

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The project closed most of the intersections on Fifth Avenue between Main Street and Burr Street throughout the project, although the city was able to reopen the intersection on Lawler Street before the project was finished.

Throughout the project, curbs and gutters were replaced and new asphalt paving was added.

City reinstates hotel tax

A 50 cent tax on nightly hotel room rentals in Mitchell will be reinstated in November.

The City Council voted unanimously to adopt a plan to renew the tax that has generated more than $250,000 since it was first implemented in 2013. The tax is used to fund the Mitchell Sports and Events Authority, which was created to provide funds to local organizations bidding to host sports tournaments in city limits.

A majority of the town's hotel and motel owners approved the tax before it could be implemented in both 2013 and 2016, and the tax will be reconsidered in 2019. The tax will be reinstated 20 days after publication, which is expected to be Nov. 1.

The tax is part of a business improvement district in which local hotel and motel owners charge an additional $1.50 per night for each room rental. Aside from the Sports and Events Authority's 50 cent portion of the tax, the other $1 is used to fund the second sheet of ice at the Mitchell Activities Center. Once the $400,000 is collected to fund the second sheet of ice, it will be used to support $1 million of the $8 million aquatic facility planned to be added at the Mitchell Recreation Center.

There was no discussion or public input prior to the unanimous vote.

Consent agenda

The council approved the following items of the consent agenda:

• City Council minutes from the Sept. 19 and Sept. 23 meetings.

• Minutes from the Sept. 12 Planning Commission and Sept. 19 Traffic Commission meetings.

• The following raffle permits applications: James River Gobblers and National Wild Turkey Federation with the drawing to be held Oct. 23; Trinity Lutheran Church with the drawing to be held Oct. 9; Dakota Wesleyan men's basketball with the drawing to be held Oct. 24; Moose Lodge No. 875 with the drawing to be held Dec. 31; Mitchell Area Safehouse with the drawing to be held Dec.2; and Mitchell Technical Institute SkillsUSA with the drawing to be held Nov. 10.

• Change Order No. 1 to the Paving and Overlay project, adding $62,957.54 to the contract amount to Commercial Asphalt, increasing the contract to $474,031.79.

• Change Order No. 2 for the Sidewalk Schedule A project, adding $9,494.96 to the contract amount, raising the contract to $56,294.

• Set Oct. 17 as the date to consider Blarney's Sports Bar and Grill for a special event liquor license located at the Highland Mall for the Holiday Spirit event, with the proceeds benefitting the Mitchell Area Safehouse.

• Set Oct. 17 as the date for a hearing on the application of Xing Chen, doing business as Tokyo, for a special event liquor license located at 819 E. Spruce St.

• Set Oct. 17 as the date for a hearing on the application of the Mitchell Elks Lodge for a special event liquor license located at the Masonic Lodge for a Nov. 5 wedding.

• $457,317.11 in Section 5311 Funds from the South Dakota Department of Transportation to support Palace Transit.

• Gas and fuel quotations, pay estimates, bills, payroll, salary adjustments, new employee hires and the payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• Called the meeting to order, conducted the Pledge of Allegiance, heard an invocation from Northridge Baptist Church and conducted the roll call.

• During citizen input, Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg gave an update on the fundraising for the Mitchell veterans park project at the corner of First Avenue and Main Street. Overweg said the city has received more than $175,000 in pledges and more than $90,000 in cash received.

• Heard an update from Davison County Emergency Management Administrator Jeff Bathke on local emergency management procedures.

• Recessed and sat as the Board of Adjustment to set Oct. 17 as the date for the following hearings: A hearing on the application of Roxie Ackman and Brittany Royston for a conditional use permit for a beauty salon at their home located at 718 E. Sixth Ave; A hearing on the application of Sue Burris for a front yard variance of 15 feet versus 25 feet as required for construction of an unenclosed porch at her 210 W. Tenth Ave. residence.

• Approved an easement agreement with James River Property Group LLC, which is seeking an agreement with the city to permit an existing sign to remain on city property located at the northeast corner of First Avenue and Sanborn Boulevard. The easement was considered because American Garage Door is in the process of being sold, according to City Attorney Justin Johnson.

• Approved Resolution No. 3385, for the approval of a plat in Davison County.

• Held a hearing on a petition to vacate a portion of West 19th Avenue. The council then approved Resolution No. 3386, which will serve as part of a land swap transaction.

• Held the first reading of Ordinance No. 2553, which would change the district classification of several lots of the MLC Addition from a R2 Single Family Residential District to the Planned Unit Development (PUD) known as Mueller Lumber Morningview Subdivision. It would also amend Ordinance No. 2430, which previously established the existing PUD.

• Held the first reading on Ordinance No. 2554, which would amend Mitchell City Code 6-1-4(A) regarding Unreasonable Animal Noise.

• Rejected all bids to award a janitorial and housekeeping supply contract to JCL Solutions. A representative of Jones Supply, one of the project bidders, had concerns with the bidding process and suggested three bids did not comply with the bid specifications. Attorney Don Petersen asked the council to reject the bids as nonconforming and hoped to have the bid awarded to Jones Supply. The council voted to reject all bids after a lengthy discussion.

• Entered an executive session to prepare for contract negotiations or negotiating with employees or employee representatives and to consult with legal counsel. No action was taken.

Related Topics: LAKE MITCHELL
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