New London’s Common Council must focus on resolving the asbestos issue at the former Simmons property.
In what has been a lengthy process so far, the council needed to determine at its meeting last Tuesday if it was a necessity to retain special legal council to represent the city in the asbestos case.
The case has been referred to the Department of Justice by the Department of Natural Resources. While the city has not received an official word regarding what role they will play in the cleanup, Municipal Attorney Earl Luaders thought it best to be proactive and retain counsel who specializes in such matters.
“Would it happen?” Municipal Attorney Luaders pondered of potential fines to be given for every day of cleanup inactivity at the site. “I seriously, seriously doubt that because we have been cooperative. We’ve continued a dialogue with the DNR. There cannot be an inference that we’ve ignored this.”
“We continue to take a proactive approach,” he added. “The law firm Gonzalez, Saggio and Harlan specializes in environmental issues and has worked with the Department of Justice on other cases like ours. It is serious money, but the people have the expertise. They are familiar with entities that would know better what our cost would be, and could isolate and minimize the cost cleanup.”
All parties, according to Luaders, have equal responsibility in the cleanup process according to the statute. It may come to the point – though it was deemed “speculative and a long way off” by Luaders – that the city may end up owning the land and could recoup the cost down the road from a resale. Until that point, however, the city may have to rely on a special tax to fund the cleanup endeavor. Insurance most often has asbestos clauses, which means the two other culpable parties in this case, Superior Excavating LLC and Mr. Eric Spirtas, will be nearly impossible to depend on to aid financially in the asbestos removal.
“I would feel much more comfortable with a firm who knows the process backwards and forwards and has been through this a number of times,” said City Administrator Hager. “They have a number of excellent references. They also have done work in Appleton, Menasha and Clintonville. So they are familiar with the area and circumstances.”
The motion was presented and seven voted in favor, with two against the hiring of the law firm Gonzalez, Saggio and Harlan.
The board of public works brought several items forward for approval, including the adoption of the 2011 Compliance Maintenance Annual Report. Public Works Director Jeff Bodoh mentioned that the plant received a grade “A”. Other motions approved included: the cost of replacing a screen ultra violet controls that burnt out in April, which was $13, 228; three doors needed replacing at the sewage plant and a bid from LaForce put the cost at $4,535; and roof repairs at the plant are necessary at this juncture, and the bid from Most Standard Builders was $9,600. All were approved.
Approval for a bid from Visu-Sewer Clean & Seal for 2012 Sanitary Sewer Lining Rehabilitation project in the amount of $51,317.50 was also necessary. This is to occur in the area of the Fremont easement on Beacon Ave. and Douglas St. The motion was passed. Work will begin soon.
The board of public works also reported on a resolution to sidewalk removal requests. As explained by Committee Chairman Barrington, the owner at 313 Douglas St. requested permission to remove the sidewalk section in front of property that is not attached to any other sidewalk. The board decided not to set a precedence to remove existing sections of sidewalk throughout the city.
Repaving will happen in the lot at City Hall, to its north side. A bid of $2,900 was approved for New London Asphalt and Sealcoating.
Finance and personnel committee brought forth the necessity for an ordinance to amend sections 9.02, 9.04 and 9.28 of the municipal code. The ordinance excludes the Handschke and Peterson properties from being subject to the ordinance. It accomplishes both keeping the properties on the state tax rolls and allowing the property owners to hunt; the motion was passed unanimously. It will allow hunting and the carrying of guns and so forth on the parcels of their land on the far northwest side of the city.
Judge Resch had previously raised discussion at the committee meeting about hiring a community service coordinator. The individual would be responsible for monitoring and supervising community service individuals. It was stated there is a need to check into the implications of liability. Judge Resch will work with human resources to discuss the job description.
The issue of small electric vehicles on city streets was discussed, and it was decided to place together an ordinance to see if both Outagamie and Waupaca counties would be willing to accept the electric vehicles on their streets.
As reported to the city council by Tom Schmude, Chairman of the Police and Fire Commission, as part of the 2012 budget process, a request was made to increase fire chief’s salary by $4,000. The finance committee asked for a presentation on the justification for the increase. Mr. Schmude explained during their committee meeting that the increased duties were discussed and the salary increase retroactive to Jan. 1.
The parks and recreation committee is working on concept plans for a new city garage. It was stated that it’s important that it does not impede upon the sled hill.
A new portion will need to be added to the ordinance covering pier and docking regulations, as right now, the ordinance has no provision for overnight mooring. Revisions will be brought back to committee to later be inserted.
Recurring problems with cameras at Memorial Park will be actively looked at for solutions. In addition, the community gardens are still on hold due to the status of easement encroachment. Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth also reported that the tennis courts at Hatten Park have been resurfaced.
Dave Morack, Chairman of the Economic Development Committee, mentioned there are mixed feelings regarding the development of the city river front property. Some feel there is no need to rush out and develop given the economic climate, while others feel this area would be great for senior housing. It was also mentioned whatever is placed there should create a niche market for the city, like has been successful in other cities; this includes focusing on the cities locally produced product or focusing on the history. The consensus was that in the end this needs better consideration, and developer Todd Hutchison will be placing together a frame of ideas for the committee to consider for movement.
As reported by Parks and Recreation Director Hoerth, the department is in full force summer mode. They now have two staff who can train lifeguards. Plans are also well underway for the Fourth of July. Prior to the fireworks event, there will be a free event featuring music, carnival games and food. It will be held inside Hatten stadium.
Police Chief Schlueter mentioned he has received several inquiries regarding the funding of the department’s Harley Davidson. This bike is a joint agreement with Clintonville. The lease is $600, which they split, in addition to the maintenance costs. The department is keeping statistics to make sure it’s worthwhile and continues to remain affordable.
A special presentation was made by Brooke Prahl regarding the Mission of Hope. Prahl is heavily involved in community service and wanted to invite the city to join her on Aug. 25 for a community service day. There will be free groceries, health screenings, haircuts, family portraits, games and activities for children and representation from local organizations and businesses.
“This all-volunteer event localizes hundreds of area residents to serve and make a difference in their own community,” Prahl explained. “I’m trying to encourage churches, schools, city and county agencies and businesses to become more involved with the Mission of Hope outreach. For more information you can visit www.mission-of-hope.com or call 920-470-8326. The old Wolf River Lumber property will be the host site for the event.