Akeley council gives shelter green light

The Akeley City Council issued a letter, requested by the Minnesota Department of Health, stating that the emergency homeless shelter being planned for the second floor of the Akeley Regional Community Center (ARCC) is acceptable at that location.

“It has been determined that this proposal of use does not fall against any current ordinance of the city and, as such, the city is not opposed to this use for a portion of the building,” Mayor Brian Hitchcock wrote in the letter approved at Thursday night’s special meeting.

City Clerk Kristi Kath said she discussed the matter with the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) prior to the special meeting. Since Akeley doesn’t have zoning, the LMC said it is a permissible use of the property.

No one in the audience had any public comments about the issue.

Council member Bobbie Wosika made the motion to submit the letter on behalf of the ARCC and the motion was approved unanimously.


A letter from ARCC board member Kenny Holm was shared with the council. It told how the project was started because of multiple people requesting a place to stay, including asking if they could sit on a bench in the gym at the ARCC for the night.

“Other than one lady who was sleeping in her car in the park, these people were from the Akeley area,” Holm’s letter stated. “There is clearly a need (for a homeless shelter), whether openly acknowledged or not.”

The shelter will be located on the east end of the ARCC, located at 210 Pleasant Ave. S.E. in the 1910 building that formerly housed the city’s school.

“The ARCC board is not asking for anything from the city of Akeley,” Holm said in his letter. “All obligations, including both physical and financial are being carried by the ARCC.”

The letter said the State Fire Marshall has walked through the site and said sprinklers are not required at this time. The plumber has submitted and received approval for the plan from the state Department of Industry and the electrical inspector has made recommendations on which sub panels and wiring have to be updated, according to the letter. Widseth, Smith and Nolting have also been involved in the project from the beginning.

ARCC board vice chair Lori Muller brought a handout that stated the mission of the ARCC Emergency Homeless Shelter is “to provide shelter, awaken hope and honor dignity for those who are experiencing homelessness. Our focus is on women and families in the local area of Akeley, Nevis, Hackensack and Walker.”

The letter also stated the ARCC is currently in the process of forming a board to oversee the homeless shelter made up of five to seven individuals with a passion to get the facility up and running.”


Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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