October 21, 2019 Work Session Minutes

OCTOBER 21, 2019 – 6:00 PM

CALL TO ORDER - The work session was called to order by Mayor Rockvam at 6:00 p.m.

Council Members Present: Jerome P. Rockvam, Mayor; Gary Hughes; and Megan Pavot

Council Members Absent: Pamela Horton

Staff Present: Dan Tolsma, City Administrator; Brian Hare, City Engineer; David Anderson, Assistant City Attorney; and Theresa Schyma, City Clerk


City Administrator Tolsma discussed the background of the survey and total properties involved. He stated the survey was sent out to every single parcel on West Arm Road West (WARW) regardless of whether or not one person owned multiple properties. Assessments treat each parcel as its own so that is how the survey was mailed out.

Council Member Pavot stated that she wished the survey would have been based on number of owners instead of number of properties since the purpose of the survey was to get the beliefs of the entire neighborhood. She believes one survey/opinion per owner would have provided an accurate reflection of the neighborhood. She added that great information was collected but it is important to remember the percentages are based on small numbers so one survey can greatly change the percentages.

Mayor Rockvam stated that either way the survey was conducted he knew the results would show that the majority of residents on WARW do not want these improvements.

Council Member Pavot responded that there is a difference in doing the right thing versus doing the popular thing especially when police, fire, and infrastructure concerns are involved.

City Engineer Hare discussed the comments that were received as part of the survey.

Mayor Rockvam stated he is concerned that the concrete swales that were put in place a few years ago near Seton Village are not being maintained.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that the concrete swales were installed in 2018. He added that the swales were never meant to be a complete correction for stormwater issues; the swales were an attempt to make an improvement and see what they were capable of doing.

Mayor Rockvam asked about maintenance of the swales.

City Engineer Hare stated that part of this feasibility report is about setting up maintenance plans for infrastructure in Spring Park just like every other city has.

Mayor Rockvam asked why engineering money needs to be spent on coming up with a maintenance plan for a city as small as Spring Park.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that only so much can be done when people don’t want to invest in infrastructure. If residents are not willing to invest in upgrading their streets and yet still call to complain about road conditions; there is only so much that staff can do. When staff receive a legitimate complaint it is investigated. However, if the City isn’t going to invest in curb and gutter and storm system improvements then there is only so much you can do.

Mayor Rockvam stated he understood but that he doesn’t believe the swales are being properly maintained for a city this size.

City Administrator Tolsma stated that there are two main things that a plan will accomplish: 1) provide a detailed list of every structure in the city and how it should be maintained and 2) include a detailed plan for each structure with a schedule that is specific to these structures. This plan will help ensure that infrastructure maintenance and the detailed information regarding those procedures will not be dependent on one specific person on site. This plan helps protect the information regarding infrastructure in Spring Park no matter if we are contracting with an outside company or hiring a full-time employee.

City Administrator Tolsma returned the focus back to the survey to discuss the three issues that did not have a clear consensus – stormwater, road reconstruction, and improving access under the pedestrian bridge. He added that the survey did help staff locate where the focus needs to be for water concerns since the majority of respondents nearest to Seton Channel had experienced issues.

City Administrator Tolsma added that the survey also shows that the possibility of an assessment does impact the decisions with a number of residents. The number of respondents that changed their answers based on whether or not they would be assessed did impact the outcome of one question from 38% in favor with an assessment to 56% without an assessment. The City Council has discussed the assessment policy before but this does show that assessments impact the decisions of taxpayers.

Mayor Rockvam asked if the bids for water and sewer improvements have been sent out and if this project can be completed this winter.

City Engineer Hare had discussions with contractors and they are not interested in doing this project in the winter. He added that pipebursting is too costly for the winter; the project becomes exceedingly expensive and increases resident impact if it is split into two projects.

Council Member Hughes asked about equipment and trucks driving over properties to access manholes.

City Engineer Hare stated that the contractor will need to access the property and will work to ensure the residents are impacted as little as possible. He added that if this project is completed now then the City won’t have to touch it for another 25 years.

Mayor Rockvam asked if completing the project in the winter is impossible or just incredibly expensive.

City Engineer Hare responded that for a project of this size the city likely wouldn’t be able to find a contractor. He added that there are risks involved including excessive costs and change orders.

Mayor Rockvam stated that if the issue is money then the city could pay more to have the project completed in the winter to lessen the impact of residents. He added that he wants the Council to see the price comparison before eliminating the winter option.

Council Member Pavot asked about the other risks involved with completing the project in the winter.

City Engineer Hare stated that freezing temperatures, trying to maintain above ground water, and many residents being gone during the winter months are some of the issues. He added that specifics about the design can be determined closer to the start of the project; let’s stay focused on the bigger picture of the projects being proposed.

Mayor Rockvam stated the Council is in agreement to move forward on water and sewer improvements but he wants the Council to see the cost comparison of winter versus summer so they can make their final decision with that information.

City Engineer Hare stated he could look into those numbers. He further asked the Council about street improvements.

Council Member Pavot stated that receiving even 50% on some of the survey questions is promising considering the average approval rate of any improvement project throughout the state.

City Administrator Tolsma stated that, to his knowledge, Spring Park is the only city that asks the residents for permission before redoing a street. He added that Spring Park’s past precedent is that if the road project is not fully approved by the residents then the project does not happen. In most cities you receive a letter saying what the improvement is and when it will be completed.

City Administrator Tolsma added that with this survey the Council can see there is some support for the project but he cautioned that if the Council is waiting for 80-90% resident approval, it will never happen.

Mayor Rockvam and Council Member Hughes said they are not ready to move forward with anything related to street improvements.

Council Member Pavot stated she thinks it is critical to move forward on street improvements.

Mayor Rockvam stated that the road project should be set aside until the Council vacancy is filled. He added that the Council is ready to move forward on the water and sewer improvements.

The Council discussed the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) non-compliance issues with the road since the current law is not a mandated requirement for existing structures. The Council requested clarification on what would trigger non-compliance and if the value of improvement or alteration is the deciding factor.


City Engineer Hare provided a summary of the Local Water Management Plan (LWMP). He stated there was only a slight change to the previous plan that was adopted 10 years ago.

City Administrator Tolsma stated the LWMP is simply an appendix to the City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

The Council consensus was to move forward with approval of the LWMP on the regular meeting agenda.


City Administrator Tolsma presented a status update on the proposed rental ordinances. He stated that both the long-term and short-term rental ordinances were recommended by a majority of the Planning Commission at their October 16 meeting. He added that once the vacancy is filled on the Council, the item will be brought to the next work session to begin discussions.


5. ADJOURN – The work session was adjourned by unanimous consent at 6:56 p.m.

Date Approved: November 4, 2019

Dan Tolsma, City Administrator

Theresa Schyma, City Clerk