Regular Meeting Ely City Council – City Hall, Council Chambers May 18, 2021

Regular Meeting Ely City Council – City Hall, Council Chambers
May 18, 2021

The regular City Council Meeting on May 18, 2021 was called to order by Mayor Novak at 5:30pm.

2. PRESENT: Council members A.Forsman, Kess, Debeltz, Omerza, Callen, Campbell, and Mayor Novak

Campbell/Debeltz moved to approve the minutes from the May 4, 2021 Regular Council Meeting. Motion Carried Unanimously.

A. Addition 5.A Proclamation to End all Emergency Orders in the City of Ely
B. Addition 5.B. Water Tower
C. Addition 8.A. Budget Committee
D. Addition 10. D. Minnesota Leads the Nation in Dental Health Disparities
E. Omit 13.G. Trailhead Site Project Bids – 3 bids were received and Low Impact Excavators Inc. was the low bidder on the project at $438,130.13.
Additions and Omission were approved without objection.

Mayor Novak read the Proclamation to End all Emergency Orders in the City of Ely
Debeltz/Kess moved to accept the Proclamation to end all emergency orders in the City of Ely. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Water Tower
Mayor Novak stated that there has been some discussion regarding the Water Tower via Facebook and other means. Mayor Novak stated that in government we deal with these situations a lot, we deal with issues for over a year and then when the project actually happens, people ask why we are doing certain things. Examples what’s going on with the logo on the water tower?
Mayor Novak discussed the timeline that Langowski put together. In Langowski’s timelsine he stated that we have planned the painting of the water tower for over two years, the tower was starting to rust and we are trying to further the life of the epoxy coating at the most reasonable price. The inspection was finished last fall and the specifications were put together this spring to get the white portion over coated this spring. Paul brought the branding and logo discussion to the council in January 2020. Cindy Smyka from the Tourism Bureau brought the branding and logo to the April and June 30th Study Session. A week later on July 7th Cindy was present and also discussed the collaboration to rebrand Ely. At the November 17th, 2020 meeting the Council approved the brand agreement. This included the logo book with a rendering of the water tower with the new logo.
Mayor Novak stated that we are not repainting the water tower because of the logo, the water tower was starting to rust and this is regular maintenance that has been planned for 2 years. It would be the same price if we were keeping the old logo or putting the new logo on the water tower.
Mayor Novak discussed the Memorial Day Service at the Cemetery. The Service will start at 10:30am at the Ely Cemetery and will also be broadcasted on WELY.

Mayor Novak also mentioned the City is doing the Spring Clean-Up Days at Whiteside Park this Friday from 8am-3pm and Saturday from 8am-Noon or until the bins are full, whichever comes first.


A. Jim Zupancich representative of Zupancich’s Brothers Inc. Zupancich gave an update on the plans for Zup’s moving to 1500 E Sheridan St.
Jim Zupancich handed out the floor plan for the new Zup’s store that is doing renovations and moving into the old Shopko building at 1500 E Sheridan St.
Zupancich thanked the city for everything they have done to help so far.
Zupancich indicated that they have been working on this deal for 2 years and last fall all the plans came together to purchase the old Shopko building and Ely Northland Market. Zupancich stated that he has been working with Harold Langowski and a couple city employees with what will be needed for electricity for the store. The contractors broke ground on the project last Monday, by starting to take out some of the concrete for the coolers and freezers and putting in the plumbing that goes along with the new coolers and freezers.
The new store will be twice as big as the current store and will also have a liquor store. They are also working with a pharmacy to get that in the store also. Zupancich indicated that they have received grants from the IRRRB and he thanked the City and Chirs Ismil from the IRRRB for helping to get the grants.
Zupancich stated that they hope to open by the 2nd week in October, but hopefully it could be the last week in September, the shelving company is 26 weeks out right now so that might be the delay with the project.
Zupancich stated that they have planned on doing this project for several years and now everything has come together.
Zupancich stated that they are still working on getting clothing and other odd items in the store There was a bunch of buying shows in Vegas that they were going to go to in March, but with Covid they were canceled, they are still working on getting suppliers. They will have a big selection of other items in the store other than grocery items.
Kess asked Zupancich to walk through the process of putting a liquor store in the building.
Zupancich indicated that this has been the thought process for quite some time. At one point they were looking at the property next to the current Zup’s Grocery store to put in a liquor store there. To make this project work they thought putting in a liquor store would be a good thing to do with all the financing they are doing. Zupancich stated that they have talked to a couple of the liquor stores about this. Zupancich indicated that right now Minnesota is the only state in the union that does not allow a liquor store in a grocery store, for the most part.
A.Forsman stated that there are numerous states that do not allow distilled spirits to be sold in grocery stores; Minnesota is the only state that limits grocery stores to 3.2%.
Zupancich stated that they have had 3.2% off sale for over 20 years; it is getting harder to get 3.2% products as a lot of the manufactures are doing away with it.

A. Standing/Special
Library Board
Omerza stated that the library will be opening on Monday with the express browsing. The library board will be meeting at the beginning of June to discuss other potential options with the restrictions being lifted.

Park and Recreation Board
Omerza/A.Forsman moved to approve the recommendation from the Park and Recreation Board to purchase engineered wood fiber wood chips for the Whiteside Park playground for $2460. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Projects Committee
From the Projects Minutes: Discussion was had on the school project and the waterline work that needs to potentially be completed this summer. The water main running across campus will be upgraded to an 8” line and a fire line extension is needed to provide protection on the back of the building. This work wasn’t contemplated during the project design. The city does not have and local funding available for this work, we will discuss with the IRRR when an estimate is received. Harold and JPJ estimate it to cost $225k.
Kess asked about the cost of extending utility services to the school, this is an unbudgeted item. Has there been any discussion with the school about this and what is the status regarding it?
Mayor Novak stated that any resident or business has to pay for their own water and sewer lines up to the main. The school is thinking that the city should defray the cost on their property. This will cost a lot of money for the new infrastructure. EUC is already hurting with the reduction in usage from last year.
Kess asked to add on to the next agenda or study session for discussion on how to proceed.
Omerza stated she would rather not talk around this, rather address this issue right away, the sooner we solve this the better.
Mayor Novak stated we will put this on the Study Session for next week with a joint session with the EUC.
Note: Langowski has been working with the school on this issue and will keep the council informed as more details come forth. Langowski also sent out an earmark to Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar’s office for potential federal funding for this project.

Heritage Preservation Commission: Minutes included in the Council Packet

Donald G Gardner Humanities Trust: Minutes included in the Council Packet

Budget Committee
A.Forsman/Callen moved to approve the recommendation from the Budget Committee to approve the City Staff putting the items on the Surplus Equipment List up for sale. Motion Carried Unanimously.

A.Forsman/Callen moved to approve the recommendation from the Budget Committee to approve a 15% increase for Fire Department Officer Pay.
It has been at least 11 years since the Officers wages have been updated.
Motion Carried Unanimously.
A.Forsman/Callen moved to approve the recommendation from the Budget Committee to approve the purchase of the 2011 Dodge Brush Truck for $16,800 from the DNR.
A.Forsman stated that this has been on the Equipment Replacement list for several years. The DNR has this available right now for a good price.
Kess stated that the Fire Department is also selling another fire truck that was on the Surplus Equipment List.
Motion Carried Unanimously

A.Forsman/Debeltz moved to approve the recommendation from the Budget Committee to purchase the Cemetery 52” Mower for $6,853.00. Motion Carried Unanimously.

A. Clerk-Treasurer
Ely Potable Water Aesthetic Concerns – Memo from Langwoski
We have continued to monitor the aesthetic concerns with our portable water and have continued the increased level of chlorination. With the ice melting off of Burntside Lake we had hoped the condition would have improved to allow a return to our typical low level of chlorination. We are unable to return to normal chlorination levels due to continued complaints. To continue to chlorinate at this level is not cost effective.
We have been working with our vendor on sourcing granulated activated carbon to add to the top of our multi-media filter. The addition of GAC on the top of the anthracite will provide additional absorption of organics that may be present in the water. This material is estimated to cost $13,000 and require replacement every five years. We will also need to modify our chlorination process due to the modification.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates. We apologize for any inconvenience this unforeseen situation may have resulted in and take the quality of Ely drinking water very seriously. The Ely drinking water is safe to drink and meets all Department of Health standards.

B. Fire Chief
Callen/Omerza moved to approve the Ely Fire Department Officers & Proposed Officer Pay with John Zobitz as 1st Asst Chief, Kevin Gilbert as 2nd Asst Chief, Greg Jonas and Mike Zgonc as Safety Officer, Kristen Zobitz as EMS Officer and Ryan Callen, Chris Vesel, and Mark Walker as Captains. Motion Carried Unanimously.

C. Library Director

D. Police Chief
Chief Houde stated that the parking interns are going to be starting Memorial Day Weekend. Houde stated that the crosswalk signs will be up soon, he purchased 2 new ones and pieced together 2 old ones.

E. City Attorney

F. City Engineer

10. COMMUNICATIONS: Matter of Information
A. Correspondence from Clerk Langowski regarding the need for funding for the Waste Water Treatment Facility Project
B. Correspondence from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Brownsfield Program Grant – Not Selected
C. Correspondence from Northwoods Partners
D. Minnesota Leads the Nation in Dental Health Disparities

A. Debeltz/Callen moved to approve the City and EUC claims for May 18, 2021 for $491,781.56. Motion Carried Unanimously.

A. Committee Seat Applications
Paul Kess/Omerza moved to approve Scott Richards a Resident of Ely to the Airport Commission with the term expiring 1/31/2024. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Campbell/Omerza moved to approve Scott Meland a resident of Ely to the Housing and Redevelopment Board Mid Term Expiring 12/31/2023. Motion Carried Unanimously.

A. Off Sale Liquor Licenses - A.Forsman
A.Forsman/ Moved to have the City Attorney draft an ordinance limiting the number of licenses for exclusive off-sale liquor establishments to one store per 900 residents with the minimum number of available licenses at four which is what we currently have. – Due to lack of support the motion failed

A.Forsman stated that the businesses need protection. We have three full liquor stores in the community that have all changed hands in the last several years. We don’t need any more empty storefronts in town if we have another liquor store the current stores might die and we would have empty storefronts.

B. Kess/Campbell moved to approve the Off Sale Liquor License for Zupancich Brothers Inc DBA Zups at 1500 E Sheridan St pending proper paperwork, insurance and fees.
Kess in the past we have not had a limit on the number of off sale licenses. In that sense we have not put a limit on competition and we have never been in the position to pick winners and losers it is a level playing field that everyone has the same criteria. Competition is not a matter for the council to decide, it is a matter for the businesses to decide. In that sense Kess feels it is appropriate that we pass this motion and approve this liquor license.
Motion Carried 6-1 with A.Forsman voting No.

C. Debeltz/Kess moved to approve the Residential Rehab Loan for Bryan Edlund at 925 E Harvey St to replace an old oil furnace with a new updated propane and AC Unit for $6500.00 pending proper paperwork and fees and to direct Attorney Klun to work with the applicant and proceed with loan processing. Motion Carried Unanimously.

D. A.Forsman/Campbell moved to approve the request from the Ely Area Ambulance Service for a letter of support for federal funding for the proposed ambulance station.
Mayor Novak stated that the Ambulance Board is in the process of putting an application together for federal funds for a new ambulance garage.
Motion Carried Unanimously.

E. Debeltz/Omerza moved to approve the Change order #1 for the 2021 City Infrastructure Improvements Project to complete the trail on Part 4- Semers Park Trail Base Bid which increases the contract amount by $27,650.00. Motion Carried Unanimously.

F. Omerza/Campbell moved to approve the Commercial Renovation Loan for ASIN-MITIG, LLC DBA: 302 Sheridan LLC – Rockwood – at 302 E Sheridan St to re-roof and to bring the insulation value up to current standards for $17,500 pending proper paperwork and fees and to direct Attorney Klun to work with the applicant and proceed with loan processing. Motion Carried Unanimously.

G. OMITTED (50-54) Trailhead Site Project Bids – 3 bids were received and Low Impact Excavators Inc. was the low bidder on the project at $438,130.13.
Mayor Novak explained that that the bids for the Trailhead Building came in over double the estimated price, so we need to look at what the next steps are.

H. Omerza/Debeltz moved to accept the resignation from Cory Weisinger as Equipment Operator 3 and post the Equipment Operator 3 position internally and send a letter of thanks for years of service. Motion Carried Unanimously.

I. Campbell/Omerza moved to approve the Temporary Liquor License for the Ely Rotary Club on August 14, 2021 at Whiteside Park pending proper paperwork, fees and insurance. Motion Carried Unanimously

J. Debeltz/Kess moved to post the Part-Time Planning and Zoning Administrator Position externally. Motion Carried Unanimously.

K. Campbell/Kess moved to approve the Residential Rehab Loan for Jennifer Laverdure at 336 E Chapman St to replace the roof and replace some windows for $10,000.00 pending proper paperwork and fees and to direct Attorney Klun to work with the applicant and proceed with loan processing. Motion Carried Unanimously

Eric St Martin owner of Ely Liquor. St. Martin stated that last meeting he asked if a liquor committee was being formed.
Mayor Novak indicated that the liquor committee was more informal, it was never codified. This committee has been inactive for many years and it is not an official committee in the city code.
St.Martin indicated that he is disappointed in the lack of discussion with A.Forsman’s motion. Every city that St. Martin has looked at has a cap on the number of off sale licenses. St Martin indicated that he is all for competition, but this is beyond competition; you’re just watering it down.
Mayor Novak stated that we have no limits on off sale liquor licenses we have no legal basis to deny a license, if we deny that license request we are sure to have a law suit and the taxpayers will have to pay the legal costs.
St Martin stated that the city denied the off sale liquor license for Voyageur Short Stop owned by Troutlines in 2004. The Ely vision statement states that Ely supports business, industry, institutions and entrepreneurship – providing long term, quality employment and economic vitality.

Mike Anderson stated that he moved to Ely 3 years ago. Anderson indicated that he has seen what Walmart or stores like that have done to small towns. He understands that the council is in a pickle, but when you let anyone have a liquor license you are putting a bullet in these other operations. Anderson indicated that the Zup’s store would do well with or without liquor sales.

A.Forsman clarified that never at any time did anyone say that a law suit is going to happen.

Mayor Novak adjourned the meeting at 6:31pm without objection.

Casey Velcheff
Deputy Clerk

Ely Echo June 5, 2021