CITY WANTS ESTIMATE TO BLACKTOP MAIN’S SIDE STREETS
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
At the recommendation of councilor Lonnie Tjaden, the city of Freeman will get an estimate of how much it would cost to include a new blacktop surface on the roadways extending one block off the B-1 business district as an add-on to the Main Street project slated for 2022.
“We’re doing Main Street; we’re spending roughly $3 million on it,” Tjaden said at the Freeman City Council meeting last week Tuesday, June 15. “Have you guys drove a block off Main Street on these roads?”
“They’re terrible,” replied councilor Charles Gering.
“Shouldn’t we just go a block out?” Tjaden continued. “We’re already doing Railway; we’re already doing Third on the west side. Go to Fourth on the west side, there are places there where, if you met traffic, one of you is going to be in gravel.”
The city is planning to rebuild the Main Street roadway from the North County Road south to Fifth Street, which will he Tjaden said will only exacerbate the deteriorating conditions of those side roads.
“If you’ve got a nice-looking Main Street and you pull off and it’s just a junk street, it ruins everything,” he said. “It would be worth getting a price on it, in my opinion.”
“I agree with you,” Freeman Mayor Michael Walter said, noting that City Hall and two banks are located along those side streets. “It’s horrible.”
The city will get an estimate on the additional work from Sayre Associates, which is overseeing the Main Street project and hopes to have bids out later this year in anticipation of an April 2022 start.
A request from Jay Hofer that the city of Freeman expand the bar space he operates through a lease-management agreement failed to gain approval when the city council met last week.
Hofer and the city had been discussing building a 30×30 room inside the old fire station that is part of the multi-use municipal building that serves primarily as City Hall; the old fire station is adjacent to Hofer’s bar, Hootz, and accessible through the beer garden on the south side of the property. Councilor Blaine Saarie, who has been working with Hofer on the possible project, told the council last week the cost was just over $41,000.
About $10,000 of that, he said, were expenses the city would likely need to take care of regardless of whether the bar expansion was approved, like the replacement of an electrical panel, duct work and the removal of old fuel tanks — “in my opinion, things we should consider doing regardless,” Saarie said.
And he noted that, with an increase of $500 in Hofer’s monthly rent, the project would be paid for in 83 months, or roughly seven years.
Hofer is currently in the second five-year lease agreement with the city to operate the bar and will have to renew again the fall of 2025.
While the project saw a motion and a second by councilor Doug Uecker and Saarie, respectively, it failed by a 2-4 vote. Other councilors said there were better uses for that space, including the possibility of converting it into a new police station.
Police headquarters are currently in a room adjacent to the council chambers inside City Hall and immediately east of Hootz, and offers little privacy.
“I would be much more in favor of going down that road,” councilor Charly Waltner said in support of a police department expansion.
Said councilor Terry Jacobsen: “I think we need a police station more than we need to add on to a bar.”
Jay Hofer, owner of Hootz, has been talking with the city council about utilizing space in the old police station for special events well before the coronavirus pandemic hit last March and Mayor Michael Walter at last week’s meeting pushed the council to make a decision.
“As a council you’re either going to go in on this (or say) we have plans for this building,” Walter said. “That’s the decision that’s in front of the council. It’s been kicked down the road as long as I’ve been here.
“Which path are we going to go down?,” he continued. “Somebody is going to have to run it up the flagpole.”
After the vote, Walter told Hofer, “That’s probably not what you came here for.”
“After three years, at least now I know,” Hofer responded.
Also last week the council voted 6-0 to put a daytime watering restriction in place — from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. — to get ahead of a possible water shortage.
Tjaden, who raised the issue at the June 15 meeting, noted that the city’s water usage through its supplier, B-Y Water, jumped from 139,000 gallons on May 30 to 311,000 gallons on June 5.
He said the city was not at a critical point and noted that “B-Y is not restricting us yet,” but holding water usage back could help the city in the long run.
“We’re not bad,” he said, “but we really need to monitor.”
Other councilors agreed.
“The sooner we get on top of the ball, the better we are,” said Gering.
A document provided by B-Y Water shows the following daily gallon usage from May 30 through June 10:
May 30 – 139,000
May 31 – 212,000
June 1 – 220,000
June 2 – 166,000
June 3 – 296,000
June 4 – 148,000
June 5 – 311,000
June 6 – 254,000
June 7 – 320,000
June 8 – 335,000
June 9 – 335,000
June 10 – 207,000
The council debated between an established restricted time throughout town or going with an every-other-day structure that would allow one part of town to alternate all-day watering rights with the other.
Walter favored the daytime restriction across town — “During the day is not a time to water because it evaporates,” he said — to which the rest of the council agreed.
And Mayor Walter noted that the hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. are high water-usage hours aside from watering, particularly at Freeman Regional Health Services.
A restriction during that time “will help us get a handle on it for now.”
City officials acknowledged that they will likely revisit the issue again at their next meeting and may have to go to an every-other-day rotation in addition to the daytime restriction, “but that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” Tjaden said.
There were additional action items at the June 15 meeting, including a $3,500 donation to the Freeman Summer Rec program and a $1,000 donation to go toward the Canistota/Freeman Sticks hosting the 13-14 State Teener Tournament in July, see the public notice on page 9B.