Weekly Memo 6-30-2011

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council is also provided on the City Council web page.

WEEKLY UPDATE:

Summer Flood

High waters this week have necessitated the closure of some trails and roads along the Greenway system.  The current projected crest as of the time of this memo is approximately 38 feet.  That level would be near the closure level for the 4th Street NW/Highway 2 underpass.  Public Works and the Public Safety crews will monitor the situation; and they stand ready to temporarily close access if required.

TE project approved

As the State shutdown looms, staff received approval this week from MnDOT to proceed with the Transportation Enhancement project (sidewalks/trails) along DeMers Avenue and Central Avenue.  The City has satisfied the right-of-way and easement requirements for the project.  Yet, the State shutdown could force another delay in awarding a construction contract.

Shutdown

The Ramsey County District Court ruled this week that Local Government Aid (LGA) must be paid in the event of a shutdown because it is a standing appropriation.  Barring further appeals, this represents a victory for cities.  East Grand Forks can expect to receive a payment on or about July 20 for approximately $1.4 million – or half of the annual LGA allocation.  The amount could change if there is a budget resolution before that date.  Nancy Carroll, Board President of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, characterized the ruling as cities “dodging a bullet.”  However, cities will have to continue to pressure elected officials not to reduce future LGA allocations.

I have attached my shutdown presentation from Tuesday’s work session as well as a corresponding memo from the League of Minnesota Cities about the same topic.  Note that a couple of items have changed including the status of the aforementioned LGA payments.  We have also been assured that water quality testing will remain available.

Spice

An article ran in the June 28 edition of the Star Tribune indicating that three retailers are suing the Attorney General and select City Attorneys in an effort to prevent the named parties from prosecuting retailers for distributing synthetic cannabinoids.  The East Grand Forks City Attorney is a named defendant in the suit.  Other named parties include the Attorney General, and other City Attorneys from Duluth, Golden Valley, Maple Grove, Moorhead, and Waite Park.  The Legislature passed a law that bans synthetic cannabinoids in the state of Minnesota.  The law takes effect July 1.  The suit does not seek any financial or compensatory damages, according to the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.  The City Attorney is named as a defendant simply by nature of his position to seek relief from criminal prosecution relating to the newly-enacted law.  A copy of the article is attached.

Sherlock Forest update

The Rockn’ the Sherlock benefit was held on Wednesday with what appeared to be very solid attendance throughout the day.  The Sherlock Forest committee and its co-chairs very much appreciate the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the community and all of the parties who have and continue to make this project a priority.  The Parks Superintendent is currently soliciting quotes for demolition.  I expect that demolition will occur before the end of the July barring unforeseen circumstances.  The Parks Superintendent will also coordinate staff to begin the bid/RFP advertisement process for new construction.  The procurement process will take about a month.  I remain optimistic that Sherlock Forest will be rebuilt by early Fall.

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