But not without a struggle. Report on Sleepy Eye City Council meeting.
The first order of business at the Tuesday, Aug. 8 Sleepy Eye City Council meeting was a request by organizers of a downtown car show to close some streets for the event. Planned for Saturday afternoon, Aug. 19—prior to the Corn Day Parade—the new event is planned to bring people to downtown Sleepy Eye. Kathy Krenz spoke for the committee and asked the city for permission to block off some streets for the car show and use the city’s utility building parking lot (northeast corner of 4 and 14). The council approved use of the parking lot and closing Oak Street between Second Ave. NW and Second Ave. NE, with First Avenue remaining open to traffic, with Police Chief Andres able to adjust the boundaries as he feels necessary. Andres said he planned to walk the area with committee members soon.
Previously tabled, the Code of Conduct and Statement of Values for elected and appointed officials was once again on the agenda. The council voted at a special meeting on June 7 to have the suggested policies drawn up; considered them briefly at their July 11 meeting, but tabled adoption for further explanation; met on July 20 with the attorney they hired to prepare the document to review and ask questions.
Nate Stevermer made a motion to adopt the Code of Conduct and Values, seconded by Joann Schmidt, but the motion failed on 2-3 vote. Council members Dick Zinniel, Doug Pelzel and Larry Braun voted no.
A somewhat heated discussion followed. Schmidt, holding the document up, said, “We should say, ‘yes, I will do this, I will act like this.’” Doug Pelzel said it’s already in the city charter, but Schmidt said the charter addresses conduct of the council as a whole and the Code of Conduct applies to individual elected and appointed officials.
Kurk Kramer said he wanted to speak as a citizen and passionately asked the council members to point out what exactly they objected to in the document. Zinniel said, “If we say one word wrong it will be a witch hunt. I’ll have to hire a lawyer.” Despite repeated questioning from Kramer Zinniel declined to say what part of the document he found objectionable.
Mayor Wayne Pelzel said the code was meant to address issues going forward. “What will we do in the future [if councilor conduct is questioned]? This is not about the past. Now what do we do?”
Zinniel said something to the effect of, “If some people (in supervisory positions) would do their job . . .” Kober asked Zinniel, “Who isn’t doing their job?” to which Zinniel answered he wouldn’t say in an open meeting. Kober then said he objected to the idea that he, or Bob Elston, did something to cause the issue that brought the council to the creation of the code of conduct.
Doug Pelzel moved to reopen the original motion; Stevermer seconded. The motion to adopt the Code of Conduct and Values passed by a 3-2 vote, with Zinniel and Braun voting no.
•Approved installation of a flashing beacon at the crosswalk from St. Mary’s Street to the lake trail. The estimated cost of $15,000 will be added to the city’s share of the 2018 Highway 14 project and MnDOT will handle it.
•Heard from engineer Dave Palm that the parking lot for the event center is progressing well. The work is being done by low bidders: Heiderscheidts for earth work and Salonek for concrete (curbs to control water runoff on south and west sides) for a total cost of $80,000.
•Tabled a request by the Arena Association to allow them to install gates on the driveways to their new concrete parking lot—to prevent semis from using the lot for a turnaround or for overnight parking. Chief Andres was directed to look at the location and advise next month.
•Approved a request from Americana Bank to increase the amount of the city’s subordination to Ruhr Development’s loan. The bank has approved an increase in the loan amount. City Attorney Alissa Fischer reminded the council that they have a personal guarantee on the note for Ruhr’s $400,000 purchase of the hotel.
•Fischer said she’s continued to have questions about commercial blight and said the council needs to schedule a workshop to discuss the matter. Council expects to have something ready for consideration at the Sept. 12 meeting.