Following through on a complaint from a citizen last year on the use of tobacco at Lakeside Park, Public Works Director Mike Goebel was asked to look into the possibility of the city instituting a tobacco-free policy in city parks. Matt Jackson from Sherburne County Health and Human Services appeared before the Big Lake City Council Wednesday to present a proposal. Tobacco-Free City? Jackson provided an example resolution and pamphlets to help explain the recommended proposal and the potential for financial assistance to promote and regulate the tobacco free policy. Jackson said parks are established to promote healthy activities and pointed out the dangers of secondhand smoke. He also said cigarette smoking causes excess litter and those parks that have launched similar programs are seeing 58% less litter in park areas. Jackson was asked how a tobacco-free policy gets enforced and he told council that the public would be their own police. “Once signs go up and people become aware of the policy, the rules get enforced by the public and not the police department,” he said. Jackson said 29 metro area communities and 59 greater Minnesota communities have established tobacco-free policies for their park systems including the neighboring communities of Elk River, St. Cloud and Zimmerman. Goebel mentioned the parks committee has made a recommendation to council to approve, but Council Member Seth Hanson said he was “not comfortable telling people they can’t smoke in an outdoor setting.” Council Member Mike Wallen agreed. Wallen suggested Goebel advise the parks committee to come up with a written policy so the council can review and act on it. Food Shelf Judie Zaske, president of the Big Lake Food Shelf, gave a presentation relating to the food shelf and the March Food Drive campaign. Zaske says the Big Lake Community Food Shelf (BLCFS) exists to provide emergency food supplies for families in need residing in the Big Lake School District #727 and to direct them to other services that may be helpful to them in a manner that preserves the dignity and respect of the client. Zaske said in late 2011, the board set about to work on their strategic plan, investigating federal, state and local grant opportunities. In order to continue to provide for their clients, Zaske said the board needed to become more proficient at raising funds that provide additional funds for their operating budget. Based on their projected budget analysis and their current rate of growth, the board deduced the food shelf could only sustain itself for another four years. Zaske says the food shelf’s numbers show the need continues to grow in the community, especially following the recent economic recession. She also pointed out food donations have increased significantly over the past three years. In 2012, food costs were 17% over the 2011 food cost of $72,295. The rise in donations, Zaske says is due to their partnerships with area food rescue partners like Coborn’s, Target (Otsego), Holiday, SA and On the Run gas stations and food marts. She said the BLCFS has benefitted from local growers and suppliers like Hayes Potato Farms and Bob and Judy’s Farm Market, who have provided potatoes and squash during the spring and fall seasons. Despite the net loss of $33,895 in 2012, Zaske says it is the hope of the food shelf board to continue to provide for needy families, maintain the nine-member board and balance the budget for 2013. The BLCFS is made up of President Zaske, VP Mary McKie, Secretary Jodi Benker, Treasurer Michelle Backlund, Coordinator Amy Roberson and members Joyce Hayes, Linda Talonen, Gina Anderson, Sally Vincent and JoAnne Allgood. WWTF Plan Engineer Brad DeWolf asked council to call for a public hearing Wednesday to allow the public to comment or ask questions regarding adopting Phase II of the facility plan for improvements for the WWTF. DeWolf pointed out the plan is to be used by the city as a tool to become eligible for grants and funding if the time presented itself for Big Lake to expand their water/wastewater system. DeWolf said the original concept was developed in the early 2000’s with the projection the city was going to grow rapidly. But, because of the economic downturn, that hasn’t happened. “I think it would be wise to have this long-term planning document in place in case any funding opportunities arise in the near to distant future,” said DeWolf. The costs associated with the improvements is estimated at around $1.3 million. Donations Police Chief Joel Scharf said he accepted the donations of services from two local auto body shops for the painting of the remaining three squad cars in their fleet to match all others. AutoStop, Inc. donated their labor services to paint two cars ($4,000 value) and JC AutoBody painted one car (valued at $2,000). Scharf said the city will be responsible to cover painting supply costs (not to exceed $500 per vehicle) which will be covered from DUI forfeiture funds. Fire Chief Randy Miller accepted a $6,500 cash donation from the Monticello Lions Club to be used towards the purchase of a Jaws of Life rescue apparatus. Workshop Recap City Administrator Todd Bodem provided council and the public with a verbal update on recent discussions held at the last workshop. Bodem said Shelly Eldridge and Stacie Kvilvang from Ehler's and Associates presented information on tax increment financing, abatement and bonding options, while identifying tools available to the city for assisting businesses. Attorney Soren Matlick discussed an easement issue at the former liquor store site and discussed the city's involvement in community run events. Mike Goebel discussed the 27.71-acre city owned property that was formerly used for land application of liquid biosolids. Goebel explained that with the new treatment process, the field will no longer be used for land application. Colliers International was hired to provide the city with a potential marketable value for the former police station located by the Holiday Station store. The value was placed at $190,000. Chief Joel Scharf reviewed the needs of the department if the building is sold. Goebel offered to look at possible storage locations at the WWTF or the Water Treatment Plant. Council Member Dick Backlund noted that the city invested approximately $600,000 into the former police building to convert it for use by the department and unfortunately will most likely only see less than $200,000 in a sale. Mayor Raeanne Danielowski said she had discussions with Steve Smith who owns the Smith property next to the fire station and he’d be willing to sell the property for $175,000 for the homestead parcel with an option to purchase the property to the south and east of the homestead site for a future municipal campus possibly to house a future city hall, police station, and public library. Council suggested staff get a market analysis on the property and to find out what the cost would be for Hay Dobbs to redesign their conceptual drawing of the fire station site to include these properties. Bodem reviewed various positions within the community development department. Discussion included continuing with Consultant Planner Ben Wikstrom for all planning services with the option of utilizing Mick Kaehler in a more broad perspective within the building department. Goebel informed council that the local game warden will be conducting animal control at Keller Lake and the McDowall Park pond area during the winter months to control the muskrat population. Other News Doug Hayes from the Legacy Foundation asked council to consider waiving parking fees at Lakeside Park from 3 to 7 p.m. Thurs. from May 9 thru Oct. 10 for the Big Lake Farmer’s Market. He also asked to have the parking fee waived from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thurs. evenings from June thru August for the proposed Legacy Foundation’s Music in the Park events. Hayes’ final request was for the city to consider the foundation to allow the sale of food and/or alcoholic beverages in a controlled environment and with proper licensing for the same Music in the Park event.