The Greenfield City Council meeting of Sept. 17 began with a presentation by Diane Sander, Crow River Organization of Water, or CROW, Coordinator, in regard to a previously discussed collaborative grant effort between Greenfield and the cities of Hanover, Delano and Rockford.
The grant, from the Board of Water and Soil Resources, would be used to study the cities’ water quality and to develop a best management practices implementation plan. A council discussion regarding the grant took place in August with the council uncommitted but amenable to the application.
In September, representatives of CROW contacted city staff about a separate funding opportunity through additional “rollover funds” that the city was eligible to apply for from Board of Water and Soil Resources. This represents a matching funds opportunity for the city of Greenfield in which the other cities would not be participating. The grant is similar, but only available to cities in Hennepin County.
Sander said that participation would result in a document that would outline cost versus efficiency for projects focusing on water quality that could be used in city planning and retrofitting. The modeling would be beneficial, a “stepping stone,” she told the council, for CROW as well as the city in future land-use and development discussions.
Councilor Chuck Alcon expressed concern and some frustration over getting involved with modeling for best management practices that he did not believe would ever come to fruition due to chemicals and farm soil run-off in a large part of the project’s designated area. He added that the cost of obtaining this funding equated the cost of several seal-coat projects, which may be a more tangible and beneficial improvement, suggesting funding priorities needed to be in line with city needs.
“Why would we model something when we can’t implement the results?” Alcon asked Sander. He also stated that some areas identified were on private land and inaccessible.
Sander said that there were several partnering studies on water restoration that led more easily to implementation and aided cities in obtaining grant dollars for some of the identified projects. Instead of traditional total daily load assessments for individual bodies and areas, Watershed Restoration Assessment Protection Projects would assess major watershed basins.
Participation would put the city in the ready position if, or when, the dollars became available, she reiterated.
Alcon said that he also held concerns that identifying problems and projects might force the city’s hand in implementation.
Sander said that, at this time, implementation was voluntary. She closed saying that the city of Greenfield was not mandated to apply for the grant, which requires an undetermined financial commitment (an amount of up to $2,000 had been previously discussed), but that she had come across a funding opportunity she felt could better position the city for future project grant considerations and result more efficient planning.
Councilor Tom Cook stated that the modeling process proposed a better, more efficient outcome with new technology and alternative improvement methods possible. The amount would be less than originally discussed, with a small dollar amount resulting in a much better return than what’s been implemented in the past.
The council did not take action; Sander and a representative of the Hennepin County Soil and Water District are preparing the application. The council will revisit the application process to meet the grant deadline.
The council discussed the recent policy presented by the Rockford Fire Department regarding building inspections of commercial buildings and multiple residential housing units within the department’s area of coverage. Although a contract prepared by Greenfield staff (modeling one prepared by the fire department for the city of Rockford) was amenable to the council in general, Councilor Mike Erickson asked that the city’s attorney be consulted to see if adopting it for only part of Greenfield held any legal ramifications or reason for concern.
The inspections have not been offered by the Loretto Fire Department at this time, and Greenfield Mayor Brad Johnson stated although he felt the Rockford department’s new policy did not compel the Loretto department act accordingly, he had no problem contacting it to see if this service could be implemented throughout its coverage area in Greenfield. The city’s attorney will be consulted regarding Erickson’s query.
In upcoming events, residents should mark their calendars for Greenfield Harvest Fest, set for the early evening on Friday, Oct. 4, at Greenfield Central Park. There will be a bonfire, tug-of-war, s’mores and visiting area safety providers.
The next regular meeting of the Greenfield City Council is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 6390 Town Hall Road.