Home owners protest future Medina water tower site

The Medina City Council chambers Tuesday, April 2, was filled with city home owners wanting to know what would happen with a proposed water tower site for the Fields of Medina West residential subdivision, located north of Highway 55 between Arrowhead Drive and Pinto Drive.

Derek Reinking, of the Medina Public Works Department, receives recognition for his five years of service to the city from Medina City Councilor Elizabeth Weir and Public Works Director Steve Scherer at the April 2 Medina City Council meeting. Scherer called Reinking “one of the hardest working young men I’ve ever met.” Public Works Foreman Ivan Dingmann was recognized for his 10 years of service to Medina. He was unable to attend the meeting. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Derek Reinking, of the Medina Public Works Department, receives recognition for his five years of service to the city from Medina City Councilor Elizabeth Weir and Public Works Director Steve Scherer at the April 2 Medina City Council meeting. Scherer called Reinking “one of the hardest working young men I’ve ever met.” Public Works Foreman Ivan Dingmann was recognized for his 10 years of service to Medina. He was unable to attend the meeting. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

They left the meeting knowing that the City Council has identified The Park at Fields of Medina West as a future water site, but the city is not likely to use it for another five to 10 years. Acting Mayor Elizabeth Weir recommended that the site be located in the southern part of Fields of Medina West close to Meander Road, where homes will be located close to a commercial area. And City Councilor Melissa Martinson directed that city staff consider aesthetics in future scoring systems for choosing water tower sites.

Many of the home owners in the audience had recently purchased single family lots in Fields of Medina West, and they said they did not know that The Park at Fields of Medina West was being considered for a water tower site. Fields of Medina West is the second of two Fields of Medina single family subdivisions. Developer Mattamy Homes is advertising new homes there starting at $350,000.

All of the homeowners who spoke said they chose their home sites for the rural setting. They all said they did not want to look at a water tower.

A representative of Mattamy Homes objected to Medina’s process for choosing a water tower site. She had seen no evidence of a public hearing and notice to neighbors.

City Attorney Ron Batty said that in Minnesota there is no legal mechanism for a public hearing for a water tower site. “There isn’t really a public process other than what we’re doing,” he said.

He added that Medina was “trying to be transparent” with the process of choosing the water tower site so that people in the future would not say they did not know what the city was doing. And future Medina City Councils could change their minds about water tower locations.

Mattamy Homes got Medina City Council preliminary plat approval for Fields of Medina West in December. The resolution included a provision under which Mattamy turned land over to Medina land for a future park and other public uses. Another condition required the developer to disclose the park as a future water tower site.

Meanwhile, Medina Public Works Director Steve Scherer and WSB, Medina’s city engineering consultants, were evaluating potential sites for elevated water storage — sites where Medina has control of the land. City control of the land would save Medina water customers and tax payers an estimated $250,000 in costs for purchasing land, said City Council Jeff Pederson.

Scherer said, “It is important for us to know we have a place to go without buying property.”

He also called the Fields of Medina location an “awesome site” for a water tower. It has the elevation needed to provide sufficient water pressure for fire protection, and it is located near what is becoming a well populated area in Medina.

Acting Mayor Weir said that Medina has to do what is best for long term public safety and efficiency and that the city has a responsibility to the public.

City Planner Dusty Finke commented that Medina could evaluate other potential water tower sites. However, a number of them also would be located close to residential areas. Operationally, water towers tend to be located near water customers.

Medina’s 2010 – 2030 comprehensive water plan calls for 750,000 gallons of future water storage.

 

BALL FIELD LIGHTS

For three years in a row, the Hennepin Youth Sports Grant Program has turned down Medina’s application for ball field lights at Hamel Legion Park. The Hamel Athletic Club has requested to use its $50,000 previously committed for ball field lights to be used for other field improvements because not enough money is available for ball field lights.

Meanwhile, Medina a couple of years ago received a $25,000 grant from the Twins Community Fund and used the money to do preliminary construction for ball field lights. A representative from the Twins Community Fund encouraged Medina to redefine its grant application to do other field improvements so that the city does not have to return the $25,000.

The City Council decided to follow this advice and approved HAC’s donation for a scoreboard, batting cage fencing and materials, benches and wind screens for the ball fields at Hamel Legion Park.

 

REFUNDING BOND SALE

The City Council approved the sale of $2,69 million in General Obligation Refunding Bonds for bonds that were sold in 2007 to pay for water projects.

Financial Advisor Shelly Eldridge, of Ehlers and Associates, said Medina is getting a 1.2889 percent true interest rate on the bond sale, and City Council John Anderson estimated that Medina tax payers would save $225,000 in interest costs over the life of the bonds.

 

OTHER 

The City Council also:

DIRECTED city staff to prepare a resolution approving a variance for maximum building size and maximum parking spaces for Woodridge Church, located in the Rural Public/Semi-Public zoning district at 1500 County Road 24. The variance is in accordance with a recent settlement agreement between the church and the city of Medina in litigation relating to Woodridge’s desire to expand. No construction plans were approved. That approval will come later.

APPROVED Medina’s application for Clean Water Fund grant money to help pay for $451,074 in storm sewer improvements to Tower Drive. Cost for the entire Tower Drive street and utility improvement project is estimated at $1,784,216.20.

APPROVED the city’s application for a Natural Resources Incentives Critical Habitat grant for clearing up blockages in the channel outlet for Lake Independence between Independence Road and Pagenkopf Road. Estimated cost for removing vegetation and dredging the channel is $277,525. The cost will be divided amongst participating cities and the Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed District.

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