Council balks at replacing trees

by Tom Coombe

Ely’s City Hall is more visible than ever, thanks to the recent removal of two trees at the front of the building.<BR><BR>And some city officials want to keep it that way.<BR><BR>Tuesday, council members tabled a proposal to plant trees outside the building.<BR><BR>“I think City Hall really looks good right now without the trees there,” said council member Butch Pecha.<BR><BR>Large trees that blocked the view of much of the front of the building were taken down last month when it became necessary to do so to complete some renovation work to the building.<BR><BR>That’s given passersby a much better view of the building, and provide a look that several council members would like to keep.<BR><BR>When mayor Frank Salerno discussed a proposal to plant eight-to-10-foot high trees where the old trees had been located, council members balked.<BR><BR>“You’ve repaired the building and made it look real nice, and now you’ll hide it again?” asked council member Dan Przybylski. <BR><BR>Paul Kess agreed.<BR><BR>“I’ve heard several positive comments about the look of the building,” said Kess. “I’m not sure we should be replacing those trees.”<BR><BR>Kess advanced a motion to table any action until more public input can be gathered.<BR><BR>Council members said they wanted to hear from Elyites before taking any action.<BR><BR>“Let’s give our constituency a chance to voice their opinion,” said council member Mike Hillman.<BR><BR>In a brief, 50-minute session Tuesday, the council also delayed action again on a proposal to sell city property in the Sandy Point addition of town to former city clerk Terry Lowell.<BR><BR>Kess pushed for the establishment of consistent policy for dealing with potential land sales.<BR><BR>“Simply because someone wants to buy city property and is willing to pay the appraised value doesn’t mean we have to sell it,” said Kess. “We haven’t done our homework and I don’t think we should sell it.”<BR><BR>Przybylski responded that the issue has been on the table for months and needs to be resolved.<BR><BR>The council directed the city’s land committee to formulate a proposed policy by Aug. 17, the date of the next council meeting.<BR><BR>In other business, the council:<BR><BR>• Rescheduled clerk-treasurer John Tourville’s performance evaluation for Tuesday at 5 p.m., at City Hall.<BR><BR>• Opted against taking action on the purchase of a security system for City Hall until a recommendation can be made by the city’s budget committee.<BR><BR>• Accepted the resignation of civil defense director Jim Wagner. Civil defense duties will now be handled by fire chief Louis Gerzin.<BR><BR>• Approved payment of $9,320 to Architectural Resources, Inc., for its work on the roof renovation project at City Hall.<BR><BR>• Accepted a multi-party representation agreement with city attorney Larry Klun, who is working on behalf of several parties, including the city, on the vacation of the old Pioneer Road.<BR><BR>• Backed the recommendation of the city’s planning commission and approved an alley vacation requested by Kerry Perushek.<BR><BR>• Approved the renewal of the city’s various liquor licenses, pending the submission of paperwork and payment fees. License holders who don’t turn in their documents on time are subject to a $100 fine.<BR><BR>• Authorized Tourville and deputy clerk Patti Wellvang to attend a mandatory election administration training course in Duluth.<BR><BR>• Recognized members of the Ely American Legion baseball team for their efforts in winning the district championship and advancing to the state tournament.