Old house, new shelter, Rockford addresses proposed improvements

The Rockford City Council addressed a number of items at its Jan. 28 meeting including the Stork House, a well protection proposal and the Riverside Park picnic shelter.

STORK HOUSE AND RAHS

The Rockford Area Historical Society has, in recent years, kept on top of identifying improvements needed for the Stork House including its HVAC system.  The Stork House (also known as the Ames-Florida-Stork House after the families who built, lived and donated the home to the city) is the city’s premier landmark and serves as a museum and host to historically themed events. The property, which is on the National Registry of Historic Sites, is also the home to several artifacts including documents, letters and diaries that go back 150 years.

The HVAC system improvements needed are estimated at$77,000. Rebecca Mavencamp, RAHS Director, has been working on grants that would help pay for the project. The RAHS board is asking that the city pay the wages of Mavencamp for hours directly related to the grant writing process. It was suggested by the city’s administrator, Nancy Carswell, that funds could be dispersed from a fund specifically designed for this kind of improvement at the Stork House.

There is some ambiguity in regard to the existing agreement between the RAHS and the city relating to this situation, and Carswell suggested additional discussions be held to update the language and clarify the terms moving forward.

The council did approve, 4-0, funding Mavencamp to complete applications for grants that could pay 50% of project costs.

WELLHEAD PROTECTON

The city’s engineer, Jared Ward of Wenck and Associates, explained that the city needs to update its model for wellhead protection, and explained the process. This work was done in 2005, but the Minnesota Department of Health requires an update every ten years, and the process takes approximately two years to complete.

Dennis Peterson, Rockford Public Works Supervisor, was involved with this process in 2005 and plans to have his department involved in it this time as well, to the it can be, to keep engineering costs at a minimum. Peterson said that the update was, basically, an “unfunded government mandate from the department of health.” He explained the reasoning behind the process, saying that it shows the city where its water comes from so it can protect it.

Petersen had projected $20,000 for the project while budgeting for 2014, and funding for this amount is included in the water fund. The council unanimously approved the proposal.

PICNICING IN THE PARK

With firm plans to buy the Rockford Mall and remodel part of it into an event center, Carswell suggested that this would be a good time to start working on the new picnic shelter and kitchen the council discussed last fall for Riverside Park. With the event center plans now off the park site, the council plans to demolish the Lions Building (which it feels is in poor condition) and install a 500’ enclosed area that will house a kitchen and be attached to an covered picnic/seating area. Carswell suggested a committee be formed to oversee the initial planning. Ideally, this project would be completed before the second weekend in August, also known as Rockford River Days. The annual event takes place, for the most part, in the park.

Carswell was encouraged to contact interested parties and begin the planning process for this project.

This is one of a host of projects Carswell has been working on and will leave in the hands of the city’s new administrator, Dan Madsen. Madsen, Administrator Carswell said, has been spending time in Rockford working with her and transitioning into the administrator’s position.

And, in other news, Councilor Rick Martins one

The next regular meeting of the Rockford City Council is Tuesday, Feb.11, at 7 p.m. at the Rockford City Hall, 6031 Main St.

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