It belongs to the people of Scandia.

That was the final word last week as the Scandia City Council denied a request to abandon a 20-foot-wide pedestrian easement that provides access to the north edge of Goose Lake.

The easement connects the Goose Lake Farms Estates subdivision on Ogilve Avenue North and runs between plots of land owned by Bruce and Janet Swenson, and Jim and Peggy Simpson, who own a tree farm. 

Eliminating the easement, the Simpsons and Swenson argued, would enable the Simpsons to expand their operation onto the Swenson property and erect deer fencing around the two lots.

Swenson, a longtime resident of Scandia who formerly owned the farm land that was developed into the Estates, argued that putting the land into use as a tree farm would further protect the lake from development and runoff.

The two landowners further contended that the easement was seldom used, if ever, and had become overgrown with brush and small trees. Because it crosses a wetland, the easement could likely never be developed, they said.

“In the long run, for Goose Lake and for everybody concerned, we feel this will be a good thing for the city to do,” Bruce Swenson said.

But residents who opposed the abandonment said they do use the easement and that it was offered as an amenity when they bought their homes in the subdivision.

Access to the lake “was one of the selling points when we bought the property,” resident Jerry Anderson said.

City Administrator Ken Cammilleri noted that the easement was given to the city sometime after the subdivision was approved in 2000, but said the city has never had a clear plan or intent to improve it.

Councilman Steve Kronmiller pointed out that the city has several unmarked and unimproved easements and plots of land. City policy has almost always been to retain them.

Don Baber, the Estates Homeowner’s Association President, said the neighborhood residents had “kept the trail small for a reason,” but admitted the trail was recently expanded with a mower and a Bobcat, after the request to vacate the easement was made last summer.

Councilwoman Patti Ray said she walked the trail recently and enjoyed it, though she acknowledged it had mowed and there wasn’t as much water as there could be in a wetter year. 

“This is a hard decision for me, but I really feel it should stay a path and a trail. It belongs to the people of Scandia,” Ray said. “Living on a lake, I appreciate access to the lake and I would hate to deny residents that access.”

The council vote was 4-1 in favor of keeping the easement, with Councilman Jerry Cusick the lone vote against.

 

 

Ordinances approved

Without any additional comment from the public or council members, the council approved its new nuisance and sewer utility ordinances.

The nuisance ordinance gives the city greater ability to pursue both criminal and civil remedies against landowners who create too much noise or store too much junk outside.

“It’s about time we had this in place,” Kronmiller said of the nuisance ordinance.

The sewer ordinance will allow the city to create maps designating which properties in the two neighborhoods around Big Marine Lake must connect to the city’s Bliss and Anderson-Erickson sewer systems. 

 

Other business:

• The council endorsed the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee idea to put out a Request For Proposals for a Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan. The plan would allow the city to select a consultant to help create a long-term vision for the city’s parks and recreational assets.

• The council accepted a proposal from Webber Recreational Design for new playground equipment at the Scandia Community Center. The project is expected to cost $190,000, but half of those costs may come from a Minnesota DNR Outdoor Recreation Program grant.

• Big Marine Lake Store will be closed for one day and will pay a $500 fine—the minimum penalties required by city ordinance—after the business failed an alcohol compliance check last June by selling alcohol to an underage person. The owners did not appear at the city’s public hearing but did ask that the suspension be served on a Sunday in January. The council’s past practice has been to allow businesses to choose the date of their suspensions.

• The council approved tobacco sales license renewals for Scandia Olde Towne Liquor, Scandia Country Store & Cenex and Scandia Tobacco. A liquor license renewal for Scandia Olde Towne Liquor was also approved.

• The council approved the hirings of Sarah Firkus and Leo Kressin ($13.50 per hour) as ice rink attendants, and up to four seasonal program assistants for the city’s winter Learn To Skate and Hockey Skills programs, dependent on enrollment.

• Following an annual performance review, the council approved a step wage increase for Cammilleri. Cammilleri has been with the city for two years and will make $45.87 per hour. 

• The council approved the purchases of an infiltration meter system for the Bliss septic system ($21,578) and a set of replacement doors for the entryway and kitchen at the Scandia Community Center ($19,117)

 

The next Scandia City Council meeting will be held Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

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