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Park Rapids may form health board

Complaints about the conditions at the Park Avenue Apartments may prompt Park Rapids city leaders to form a board of health and adopt a set of ordinances to regulate rental housing.(Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Park Rapids is considering the development of a local health board after hearing about a possible health hazard from pigeons at Park Avenue Apartments, the site of the former middle school.

Scott Wilson, executive director with the Cass County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, approached the Park Rapids City Council this week about the issue.

His agency addresses health and safety issues of residents who receive Section 8 rental assistance. Some of the residents at the apartment complex receive this funding, which requires housing meet certain quality standards. Before someone can receive the funding, certain living conditions need to be met.

The city doesn't have a public health board or public health officer to address such issues so Wilson asked the council to consider creating a board and developing a set of ordinances to address public health in Park Rapids.

City administrator Bill Smith said that state statute provides for the City Council to sit as the local health board if one isn't established.

"The building official, the rental inspector, the police chief and the city administrator feel that such issues do not lie within their purview," a staff report stated.

The council asked city staff to look into contracting with a public health official and having a set of ordinances written to address public health issues as they pertain to housing.

Smith said he has spoken to the owner of the apartment complex and he has been assured the building is being cleaned.

An update will be brought to the next council meeting Tuesday, June 14.

If anyone has questions, Smith can be reached at 732-3163.

In other business, the council:

• Approved hiring Tom Marcussen as a part time liquor store clerk.

• Approved a resolution endorsing active living principles developed by the Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

• Discussed openings on the Planning Commission and Library Board. If anyone is interested in serving on a city committee, call City Hall at 732-3163.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561