During Wednesday’s Big Lake City Council meeting it was announced to the public that City Planner Katie Larsen had submitted her resignation effective Jan. 25 to accept a similar position with the City of Lino Lakes. Ben Wickstrom of St. Bonifacius will be contracted as an as-need person helping with planning for the City of Big Lake in Larsen’s place. Wickstrom’s appointment wasn’t without any consternation from Council Member Mike Wallen, who wanted the approval pulled from the consent agenda to discuss other options. “I have nothing against us going with Wickstrom, I just think we need to discuss this more and make sure we are making a good business decision,” Wallen said. “With Katie (Larsen) leaving and Leslie (Dingmann) ready to go out on maternity leave, I just think we need someone in there who is already up to speed on the projects we have going.” Wallen suggested the city go with NAC (Northwest Associated Consultants), who Larsen has worked with in the past and who is already familiar with what is going on in the city. “I’m just worried that Ben will need significant time to get up-to-speed and we already have a firm that is very involved and familiar with our projects,” he said. City Administrator Todd Bodem — who suggested Wickstrom to the city and has worked with him in the past — said he thought going with Wickstrom was the best value for the city. Mayor Raeanne Danielowski agreed and said the position is an “at-will” position and can be re-determined at a later date if things aren’t working out with Wickstrom. River Oaks Park Larsen asked council to consider adopting an ordinance annexing land dedicated as River Oaks Park and approve a summary publication of the annexation for the property formerly known as Shady River Campground. The intent of the annexation and acquisition is to expand the park. Larsen also pointed out that Bodem attended a Big Lake Twp. meeting last week and the Township agreed to a zero dollar reimbursement to the city for the town’s share of previous taxes related to the annexation agreement. Public Works Director Mike Goebel clarified that the park at this time is being prepared to be used by casual visitors and there are no plans to cut down trees or clear spaces to make accommodations at this time. He is, however, looking for public input on how the park should look and be used in the upcoming years. The property the city acquired sits on 11.92 acres along the Elk River off Co. Rd. 5. Workshop Recap Bodem said council discussed an encroachment issue with the Gallus property and BNSF at their last workshop and the possibility of an agreement with the two parties for $17,000. Council needs to continue to look into the timeline of the issue and will further discus next month. Police Chief Joel Scharf discussed the status of the old police station and asked council for feedback on marketing the site, how the proceeds of a future sale would be allocated, future storage needs and evidence storage arrangements. Council directed staff to contact Phil Rondeau to complete a commercial market analysis on the site and report to council at a future workshop. Council is considering changing the clean-up date and one of the dates considered is May 18 which coincides with the Living with Lupus event that same day. Members of the Big Lake Spud Fest committee spoke to council about the financial concerns they had and the lack of volunteerism and support. Council suggested the BLSF organization make their profit and loss statement more easy to understand and expressed the need for Spud Fest to find out the status of their 501c.3 status as a non-profit. Council also decided to consider changing the council meeting times from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., which will occur either the second meeting in Feb. or the first meeting in March. County Presentation County Attorney Kathleen Heaney gave a talk on trends, statistics and cases the county has experienced in 2012. Heaney said felony case files saw a slight drop in the county and the City of Big Lake from previous years but said the misdemeanors increased by 9.6% from 2011 to 2012. She also said alcohol abuse in adults has risen and prescription drug acquisition and use is a problem with the youth in the county and in cities like Big Lake. She also noted she is seeing more and more youths coming to court with mental and emotional illnesses associated with their crimes. Heaney said three juveniles pled guilty in the crime transpired at Saron Lutheran Church this past summer. She also said two people have been charged in the Verizon store thefts and Filemon Hernandez Zuniga has been convicted of sexual assault and will serve his time at St. Cloud and when released, be deported. The next Big Lake City Council meeting is Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. in council chambers.