The City Council of Marine on St. Croix held its first online public meeting on April 8. Despite minor sound difficulties, the meeting was a model of efficiency, taking only 45 minutes. Part of its brevity may be due to the large number of cancelled or postponed events as a result of the ongoing stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Walz and general uncertainty about when the COVID-19 situation will be resolved.
While the library is officially closed, it continues to host events. The March wildflower webinar drew 120 viewers on the night it was first broadcast, and another 50 viewers watched it on the library’s website. Upcoming library events include:
• April 18 online “Poetry Crawl” featuring the work of 8 local poets, 7 p.m.
• April 30 online talk about local author, Rudi Hargesheimer about his new book, “The Superior Hiking Trail Story,” 7 p.m.
• Every Saturday at 11 a.m., River Radio broadcasts interviews from local business and civic leaders, hosted by Gayle Knutson and Jim Maher Previous broadcasts can be found on the home page of the library website, as well as a link to the live broadcast.
The Commission met on April 7 and decided to postpone a public hearing on the proposed Short-Term Rental ordinance until the end of June or early July. It will then come before the council at its August meeting. The Council voted to extend the moratorium on new STRs until the end of August.
The fire chief has been meeting weekly with Washington County emergency management. The fire and rescue workers have enough personal protective equipment to last 2 months. Public safety guidelines have been published and can be found on the Marine city website and in the city newsletter. Council member Bill Miller reported that it looks like Marine will not have to deal with flooding this year, and that the noon siren is now working properly.
The June Fire and Rescue appreciation dinner has been cancelled, as well as fundraising events for the fire department. The Forest Advisory Committee reported that its Arbor Day activities will be moved to the end of June, if people are then able to gather. And the Holiday committee reported that it’s unsure what events to plan for, given the potential need for continued physical distancing. The Council and committees will continue to discuss opportunities for celebration and fundraising.
Gravel Bed Tree Planting
Sixteen tree saplings have arrived for planting in the gravel bed, now located on the northwest side of the Marine School building. The saplings – Autumn Blaze maple, thornless hawthorn, showy and European mountain ash -- will be grown out over the summer and then planted in the fall.
Judd Street Road
The Judd Street project is at a standstill while Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Historical Society conduct their historical and archeological reviews of the site in April and May. The city’s plans and the watershed district’s plans are complete unless changes are required.
Kristina Smitten reported Jackson Meadow has received a prairie restoration grant in the amount of $56,000 for work that will begin next fall and last for approximately 2.5 years. The property covered by the grant-funded work is half Marine city property and half Jackson Meadow property, but no matching funds were required on the part of the city.
Town Hall Closure
For the safety of the staff, Monday, April 13, the Town Hall building closed to the public. The door will still be unlocked for deliveries but residents are asked to do business by phone or email. The city clerk will maintain her regular schedule in the office. The assistant clerk will be working from home Tuesday through Thursday, and from the office on Friday.
Septic System Update
Council member Lon Pardun reported as soon as it’s feasible and advisable for people to meet there will be a public meeting to discuss adding residences to the municipal septic system after the pump upgrade. There will be room for 45 additional residential units. Twenty four nearby units have been identified as the most cost-effective to add to the system. Letters inviting the 24 homeowners to the public meeting will go out in May or June.
Inflow and infiltration (I&I) has been a significant problem for the sewer system. I&I home inspections would normally occur at this time of year but now will be moved back until January 2021. Homeowners will receive a letter in November.
Representatives from the Scandia City Council and Midco met with the infrastructure committee to talk about the potential for future wireless solutions to be co-located on the Marine cell tower. This would improve internet connectivity for the area. The committee also spoke with an RF radio frequency expert.