Business owners request action on Loe Industrial Park roadways

by Anne Swenson

The three hour long Ely City Council meeting started by zipping through the consent agenda items. It soon thereafter found the councilors facing a determined Nichole Boitz of Studio North, representing the 22 business owners located in the Loe Industrial Park.<BR><BR>Boitz requested that the council have “the infrastructure committee put as a priority” the roadways in the industrial park. “It’s been on the agenda since 1995,” she said.<BR><BR>Mayor Frank Salerno said that they “were not going to put you off,” but there is no sense putting overlay on the roads without the rest of the infrastructure being included.<BR><BR>Council member Paul Kess said the cost would likely be “over $300,000, but it is not a grant eligible project.” He said that $150,000 of city funds should be available in each of 2005 and 2006, and those funds might be designated.<BR><BR>Business owner and former city council member John Wavrin said that he and Rod Loe have covered the cost of 2,000 feet of sewer and water for use in the area. <BR><BR>“We’re pretty impatient,” Wavrin said, to get the roads fixed. “Driving in that mud gets pretty sickening.” <BR><BR>The somber faces of mayors of the past form a frieze on two walls of the room, reminders of the 116 year history of Ely’s development from dirt paths to paved highways.<BR><BR>Former council member Roger Skraba asked if some sort of tax abatement might be used in this case. <BR><BR>City clerk John Tourville said that is usually for someone expanding or starting up, but that he would be willing to talk to business owners from the park.<BR><BR>Council member Mike Hillman said, “We want to expedite this,” but held out no solutions.<BR><BR>Loe asked if, in the interim, “Can the city put on a couple loads of class 5 and put a crown on the roadway?”<BR><BR>Wavrin added, “And street signs?”<BR><BR>Hillman countered, “Gravel AND street signs?” which was followed by general laughter.<BR><BR>In other business, the council:<BR><BR>• Learned that of 17 local liquor and tobacco establishments checked on April 30, eight were not in compliance and could be charged with a misdemeanor. Ely’s code calls for a $700 fine for an illegal sale to a minor but state and federal laws are more stringent and could yield convictions of 3-10 years and a $5,000 fine. <BR><BR>Council member Jerome Debeltz said, “I wouldn’t want to see these people hit that bad.”<BR><BR>Council member Mark Zupec agreed, saying, “I don’t think we want to give a criminal record to a bartender working at minimum wage” or no one will take that job. <BR><BR>• Agreed to a one year contract for garbage services with the G-Men, at the same rate as in the past. Zupec said, the city is “looking at the possibility of getting into the business ourselves.” In the past, city employees picked up garbage from residences.<BR><BR>• Chose Pattison Street improvements as the number one priority to be submitted for a Community Development Block Grant, due May 14.<BR><BR>• And, as the last item of the evening, agreed to send a letter of support to get the Twins baseball games back on cable and satellite television.