St. Michael seeks assurances for Pelican Lake project

The St. Michael City Council directed staff to work with the Department of Natural Resources in assuring city-wanted conditions in the Pelican Lake draw down project.

The council also discussed incentives to attract a prospective industrial development, discussed communications changes such as a new website domain address, and heard an update about the ice arena repair.



Community development director Marc Weigle reported that the DNR is moving forward with phase four of the Pelican Lake project, which will draw down the lake level by pumping it temporarily through the city’s ditch until all properties have been acquired for a permanent outlet.

Weigle said staff wrote a letter two years ago to the DNR outlining a number of conditions and concerns with using the city’s ditch as a temporary outlet.

The DNR wrote a response addressing several of the conditions but not all of them.

Acting Mayor Kevin Kasel and councilors Joe Marx, Nadine Schoen and Chris Schumm discussed the project, including the DNR’s acquisition of several large properties along the project.

Staff said it is working with the DNR to secure right-of-way needed for future collector street and utility connections at either Jamison Avenue or Jaber Avenue. Staff said the temporary pumping route using the city’s ditch might also work as the long-term plan.

Weigle said staff would work on a response to the recent letter from the DNR, and would include the letter for future council consideration. The council directed staff to uphold the conditions originally stated and to maintain as much control as possible, since any pumping affects St. Michael residents,a and property acquisitions could affect future development.

The council also asked staff to invite DNR representative Fred Bengston to attend the council’s April work session.



In other news, the council heard there is a large distribution user interested in property at the northwest corner of County Rd.  36 and Ogren Avenue (near Hwy. 101).

The council considered several potential concept plans for the property and discussed use of tax increment financing to help the developer recover some of the upfront costs associated with the development, including road upgrades and sewer/water access.

Councilor Kasel said he would not be opposed to using TIF for industrial uses but would prefer to see the amount kept to 50 percent or less so the city and taxpayers still receive some benefit from the project in the first few years.

The council authorized staff to continue with negotiations for the industrial development.



In further matters, community development director Weigle updated the council about a recent Communication Committee meeting.

He said the committee discussed the community videos posted on the city’s website that were completed by CGI Communication five years ago.

Based on feedback from area businesses, Weigle said the city has decided not to renew the CGI contract. He said the committee discussed the possibility of working with high school students in the STMA media program to develop videos about St. Michael.

The council was open to staff working with the media director at STMA to create videos to promote the city.

The committee also had talked about changing the city’s domain name from to Weigle said a number of other cities had switched to a .gov domain, which is more intuitive for today’s market.

After some discussion, the council directed staff to compiled a list of the costs associated with the switch, and to discuss the list at a future meeting.



In more news, the council was provided with a revised agreement for STMA Ice Arena repairs. The arena is jointly owned by St. Michael, Albertville and the school district.

The original agreement included dehumidification and insulation work, but due to bids for insulation coming in much higher than budgeted, the arena board decided to only move forward with dehumidification at this time.

City attorney Dave Lenhart reviewed the revised agreement. The council said that once the dehumidification project is done, the insulation should be checked regularly to ensure it is dry.

The council then approved the revised agreement as presented.

In other action, the council:

APPROVED increasing the pay scale for seasonal part-time workers to $11 per hour starting wage, with a maximum of $14.