Storm shelter and raft discussed by Akeley City Council

081920.N.PRE.AkeleyRaft (1).jpg
The swim raft at the Akeley beach provides fun on the lake, but after it was set adrift, the council discussed the possibility of getting rid of it. For now, it will be put back in place for people to enjoy for the rest of the summer. Enterprise file photo.

Options for providing shelter for people staying at the Akeley City Campground when bad weather rolls in were discussed at the Aug. 12 Akeley City Council meeting.

During the Aug. 7 storm, municipal liquor store manager Lacey Hitchcock said 25 people sheltered in the liquor store basement for over an hour.

“There were 12-15 kids down there with their parents,” she said. Most of those seeking shelter came from the campground.

Hitchcock suggested cleaning up the basement area, where old computers and other items are stored, so there is more room to place chairs for those seeking shelter during storms.

Kristin Fake said the Akeley Regional Community Center (ARCC) has offered the interior hallway and gym as a storm shelter if someone from the city is willing to be in charge of the liability. Council member Dan Riggs said they can only insure what they own, and the ARCC would have to open it as a storm shelter themselves, if they so choose.


Riggs suggested a better option would be for the city to look into grant funding to meet the requirements of an official shelter. Requirements for lighting, accessibility and other issues would have to be met in order for a facility to be designated as an official storm shelter. The council will explore funding for such a place.

“In the meantime, we wouldn’t turn anybody away,” Mayor Brian Hitchcock said.

The council tabled action on the storm shelter issue until next month.

The council also discussed the beach and swim raft that has been cut loose from the chain that held it in place. This is not the first time the raft has been damaged.

“They are either busting the ladder off or cutting it loose,” Kelly VandenEykel said.

“This is the first time I’ve seen the swim raft floating across the lake,” Hitchcock said.

Council members discussed liability if the raft were to hit someone’s $40,000 boat, ways to make the raft more secure, and the option of not having the raft if people are going to abuse the privilege of using it.

A motion to get rid of the raft failed, and it will be put back in place this week.


In other action, the council:

  • Tabled a decision on a rental ordinance for the city. The council will review information and look at the Nevis ordinance before making a decision.

  • Discussed getting an extension for a project with the Paul Bunyan Trailhead, for which $150,000 has to be spent by November.

  • Discussed finding more judges to be trained and certified to be available for the presidential election, since there was a concern about having enough due to the fact that some election judges are elderly and may not want to participate due to COVID-19.

  • Tabled a decision on a participation agreement with the Heartland Lakes Development Commission after hearing a presentation from executive director Mary Thompson about services to help the city administer and allocate payments for COVID-19 emergency expenditures. Thompson said city expenses for protecting employees from COVID-19 are eligible, but not lost revenue from the municipal liquor store or city campground. Small business assistance grants are also available. Thompson can be reached at 368-7980 for more information. Council member Billy Krotzer suggested putting a link on the city website as well.

  • Discussed properties in town that are not being maintained and have unlicensed vehicles in the yards. Complaint forms are available on the city website for residents who have concerns about properties in their neighborhoods.

  • Tabled adopting a policy on deposits for the municipal liquor store, city hall and campgrounds. A policy for non-sufficient funds checks is being developed with assistance from the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC).

  • Discussed sewage in the basement at the Frank and Delores Lamb property. VandenEykel said people flushing inappropriate items down the toilet is one cause. The city is following the proper procedures according to the LMC, and at this point, is not liable for cleanup, but it would be under the Lamb’s homeowner insurance.

  • Heard a report from Chuck Andress about the Akeley Community Projects. The council approved Task Order 3 to administer the project. The option to sign a contract directly with the architect to save approximately $2,000, compared with using Moore Engineering, was discussed. Council consensus was to continue with Moore Engineering, as they are experts on the project.

  • Heard from Police Chief Jimmy Hansen that the National Night Out was a success, and they have $2,600 left over to use for next year’s event.

  • Heard a report about fridges and coolers that have been stolen at the campground. It was suggested Hansen should be notified of any thefts at the campground.

  • Discussed having Arvig Communications dig trench lines for security cameras in October, once the park is closed. Due to all of the trees in the area, the Wi-Fi signal is not strong enough to cover the area.

  • Approved submitting the Coronavirus Relief Fund certification form.

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.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads