Weather Forecast


Park Rapids nixes energy contract with Johnson Controls

After a lengthy discussion, the city of Park Rapids has chosen not to enter a Project Development Agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc.

The city had been approached by Johnson Controls to work with the city to evaluate infrastructure for potential areas of cost savings, energy efficiencies and infrastructure improvements.

Johnson Controls outlined in a proposal that it would look at the following measures: Water and wastewater infrastructure improvements; water metering, sizing of meters and leak detection; water quality and options for improvement; facility space utilization; facility mechanical, electrical and building envelope improvements; and electrical lighting improvements.

If Johnson Controls meets the criteria in finding a way to provide enough net savings and/or revenue enhancements to cover the program development costs but the city doesn't move forward with project development, it would owe $35,000 to Johnson Controls.

Councilman Dave Konshok said he thought this would be a good long term plan for the city.

The savings would be for a 20-year payback.

Councilman Pat Mikesh was opposed to working with Johnson Controls.

He said technology is usually outdated in 10 years and the city has other projects already in the works that look at these types of improvements.

City administrator Bill Smith wondered if the services provided by Johnson Controls would replace what the city's current engineer is already doing.

Johnson Controls representatives said their company provides the financial solutions.

Smith also said he's worried about increasing the city's debt if it moved forward with an energy efficiency and infrastructure improvement project.

Councilman Paul Utke was also concerned with the city's budget and how it could take on any other projects.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said she could see the benefit in working with Johnson Controls from a long range planning perspective.

The council took a vote and it failed, 2-2, with Utke and Mikesh voting against the agreement with Johnson Controls. Councilwoman Sue Tomte was absent.

After the meeting, Smith said he wasn't sure if the agreement would come back at a future meeting with a full council. In order for the issue to return to the council one of the dissenting voters would need to request it, he said.

In other business, the council:

n Decided to table a request to enter into a farm lease for city irrigation for five sites to hear from Luke Stuewe with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Becker Farms had been leasing the sites from the city previously. The city sought proposals for the sites and the highest proposal was from Gregg Malm for $111,533 while Becker Farms proposed $82,000.

Stuewe had been working with Becker Farms on nitrate studies and he wants to continue working with them. He asked to be put on a future city council agenda to talk about his studies.

The council will wait to make a decision on the farm leases until hearing from Stuewe.

n Talked with Hubbard County commissioners Greg Larson and Dick Devine, currently representing the city, about redistricting plans.

After the 2010 Census and the city's annexation of Green Acres, some of the county commission district populations have changed enough to require redrawing the boundaries.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said she was concerned about one option that was presented that would have one commissioner representing the entire city.

Devine and Larson said they would prefer keeping most of their current districts and sharing the city. The line is along Highway 71.

Council members said they were in favor of continuing to have two commissioners representing the city. When the county talks about economic development, for example, it could be good to have two representatives, Larson said.

The county board is holding a public hearing to discuss redistricting plans at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18 at the courthouse.

n Proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the city.

n Proclaimed the week of April 23-27 as National Arbor Week. The city is recognized as a Tree City USA.

n Heard that there are two openings for the Planning Commission. Also, the Library Board has openings for two county residents and one city resident.

n Approved a first reading of an Ordinance Amending the Park Rapids City Code of Ordinances.

City planner Dan Walker said the amendment cleans up some language.

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