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Search for new PR city administrator may go to professional firm

Park Rapids city staff will be creating a list of search firms for the city council to review at a future meeting to help with the city administrator search.

After researching whether to seek applications to fill a vacant city administrator position in house or use a search firm, the council decided to look into several search firms to see if one could be the right fit for Park Rapids.

The council was generally in agreement that a search firm could be useful because it would take extra work away from city staff that is already busy with extra duties because of the vacancy.

However, councilman Dave Konshok said he wasn't impressed the last time the city used a search firm.

"I wonder if we're not over thinking this," he said.

He was mostly concerned that a search firm would be looking only at candidates that have city administration experience or specific education and degrees.

Interim city administrator John McKinney said the council needs to be clear with the search firm that it wants a broader pool of candidates.

Konshok hopes the city will do a good job looking locally for candidates as well.

An update will be brought to the council at its Tuesday, Oct. 9 meeting.

In other business, the council:

n Asked city staff to create a proposal to delay the mandatory city water connection for some property owners on Highway 34.

Donna Petty and Donna Lord requested the council considering waiving the mandatory water/sewer connection for their properties. They said the connection would be a financial hardship. Also, they thought it didn't make sense for them to connect because their properties would likely become commercial when they are sold in the near future.

The properties, located on Highway 34 just east of Henrietta Avenue, are mandated to connect to city sewer and water by the end of 2012, three years after completion of the Highway 34 construction project.

The request had been tabled at the last council meeting so more research could be done.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said she had found some information about possible loans that are available for seniors and others with low income.

The women worried they wouldn't have time to apply for a loan in time to have the connection made before the end of the year.

McKinney said city staff thinks that if the council waives the mandatory connection for these properties it will open up Pandora's box.

Several properties on the west side of Highway 34 are hooking up to city water this fall.

Councilman Pat Mikesh said he knows of several property owners who will also ask that their connections be waived if the council approved the request from Petty and Lord.

Konshok said these properties seemed different than some on the west side. It doesn't make sense to have these properties hook up to city water and sewer when they will probably go commercial and be torn down.

City staff was directed to draft a proposal with specific conditions for waiving the connection or delaying it. Mikesh voted against the recommendation.

n Heard complaints from homeowners on Sixth Street west about dead sod on their property that was a result of a water and sewer project completed in 2011.

Homeowner Brad VanBuskirk said the sod was dead shortly after it was placed on the property and he asked the city to replace it.

Public works director Scott Burlingame said the sod is two years old and wondered why the property owners didn't approach the council right away.

Burlingame said that other property owners have sod that is still alive because they watered it.

The council directed Burlingame to look into the costs of replacing the dead grass whether by sod or seed.

n Approved the first reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 151 Zoning, Section 151.062 R-2, single, two-family and townhouse district to include additional recreational camping sites.

The existing recreational camping area on Central Avenue has 16 sites currently. Northern Lakes Company is asking to expand the area to include 40 sites. That request will come to the city council Oct. 9.

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