At their last regular monthly assembly, the St. Ansgar City Council heard Mayor Keith Horgen’s concerns about the remaining lifetime of the wastewater treatment lagoon in its current state, and how it may affect the community’s economic development goals.
First built in 1965, the wastewater treatment lagoon underwent updates and capacity expansion in 1994. The facility currently consists of two treatment cells that oxygenate the water to promote quicker decomposition of waste.
However, with the introduction of the industrial park nearly two decades ago and dozens of residential developments having been made, the need for expansion has arisen again. Mayor Horgen reviewed past city documents that proposed plans for prolonging the lagoon’s longevity, and revealed that a timeline study was conducted on the treatment pond in 2001. The study concluded that the plant had 20 years to operate as-is.
The 2021 upgrade is made especially necessary by expansion plans held by local people of economic development interest. An eight-unit multi-family living facility had been proposed to the council, with a request for rezoning of three city blocks, but Councilwoman Myrna Jorgenson heeded to her colleagues that the community should be cautious of expansion when the lagoon’s improvements remain unaccomplished.
According to the mayor, the time for securing funding for the necessary 2021 repairs has come and gone. He pointed out that projects regarding sewage and water must be done with revenue money, such as community water and sewer bills or grants, as opposed to tax money. While the city does have a per-gallon water usage rate increase scheduled for July of this year, Mayor Horgen warned that it won’t be enough to meet the city’s growing sewage processing needs.
“Opportunities were squelched by lack of funding,” said Mayor Horgen, “and money was never allocated to take care of the issues.”
“The city needs to look at long range plans and follow through with them.”
Councilman Chris Maiers proposed a feasibility study of the wastewater treatment facility within the next fiscal year, which would readdress the state of the lagoon, its E. coli and other substance levels and what other actions are necessary.
Members of the council voiced their support, with Councilwoman Jorgenson affirming that the city needs to “stop kicking the can and finally pick it up.”
In other city news, the council is considering paying for the services of Laserfiche, a software which electronically stores official documents, reducing the city’s amount of paper usage and printing costs. The council approved a motion to begin paying city employees via electronic direct deposit, rather than paper check.
City officials are considering how to approach two community concerns: an alleged violation of the central business district ordinance, which polices how downtown business are used as living quarters; and city-wide misuse of the dumpsters that open up on city clean up days, including disposal of electronics and appliances that cost the city a substantial amount of money to dispose of. According to discussion at Monday night’s assembly, rising concerns about out-of-town residents dumping trash in and around the dumpsters in the middle of the night have warranted a discussion about tighter rules for clean up days.
The council and mayor urge the public to remember that this is a service provided as a courtesy to St. Ansgar residents, and it is up to community members to be watchful of individuals violating the clean up etiquette.
The council did not motion to make any changes to the city-wide clean up plan at this time.
The St. Ansgar City Council will hold its next regular assembly
at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, at