Officially, the fall season is still days away, but these last couple of mornings have the feel of fall in them. The recent edition of the Farmers Almanac suggests that, at the very least, we can expect a winter like last year. Both seasons mean a great deal of work for the city of Medford.
First is our preliminary budget discussion. Last month in this column, I incorrectly identified that we were working around a 1.8% budget increase for 2020. That is the amount of three years ago! Last year, we were at a 3.8% increase and the preliminary number which council approved at our August meeting is 1.8%. The final budget is reviewed the rest of the year and voted upon at our December meeting.
Future construction projects will continue to be of discussion this fall. We look forward to seeing Todd Nelson in the coming months related to his converting the old football field property to multi-housing units-a combination of apartments and town homes for residents fifty years and older with single family homes adjacent to the established Bluffview residential area. As his plan will be to accommodate all storm water for this acreage in a pond on the property, the whole development is with Todd and his engineers now and will be phased construction over a number of years. This is exciting to see our second largest land track within city limits in development. The housing options are also opportunities to free up more local residential housing stock for first home and family buyers.
Work is also progressing on the reconstruction project in partnership with Steele County on County Road 45 or our Main Street-the north south traffic artery through the city. The city is committed to upgrading the undersized and shallow water main system. This cost is the responsibility of the city. The ‘what’ to be done and included to the actual street has been a topic for lots of community speculation and input! What has to be determined at the council table is what combination of streetscape, sidewalks and amenities are to be a part of the project. This decision has to accommodate today’s traffic — both motor, bike and pedestrian and that for the next 40 or 50 years. We will have additional work sessions scheduled this fall with the engineers after they have collected both community input at the June open house and at the August work study meeting with council. The next one is scheduled prior to our September meeting and so it will continue into next year.
Commercial development is also a part of regular conversation. Right now, south County Road 45/Main Street includes site work at the former United Snacks property. This area is designated for mini-storage that should be completed by year-end. Numerous conversations are also taking place about other potential sites and possibilities that will keep us busy well throughout the next year.
Then, there is the continuous work on our expansion of the current wastewater plant and whether this will include regionalization with Faribault. Work with our area legislators is critical for both support and financial assistance as we continue to meet the needs of today and the coming decades.
Now, we are also dealing with bugs! This summer was our first experience with Japanese Beatles and their appetite for our cana leaves. It was a learning experience working with our six-year old great-grandson after breakfast around 8:30am. We were out there picking them off and drowning them in a pail of sudsy water. Gardening and bugs were a regular topic along with racing to see who could put the most bugs to their watery graves.
Last weeks’ notice from the Department of Agriculture of finding Emerald Ash Borer within the city limits is disconcerting. Minnesota has 25% of the country’s estimated four billion ash trees. Like Dutch Elm Disease that eliminated many of these trees from our landscapes decades ago, a ‘bug’ is the culprit. Like many cities and yards, we lost a canopy of these wonderful shade trees; and now, the ash trees (many used to replace the elms) are threatened. The Department of Agriculture has scheduled an informational meeting on Tuesday, October 1, 6:00-8:00pm at the county administration boardroom. Encourage you to attend to learn more about identifying affected trees and trying to minimize the spread of the disease. In the meantime, suggest checking out these websites to learn more: www.mda.state.mn.us/eab or www.extension.umn.edu/issues/eab
Good luck with your fall season challenges and may we all enjoy a beautiful long season.