Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Council okays Lamppa building contract

Denies Breitung request for recreational center funding assistance

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 7/11/18

TOWER—Construction on the new manufacturing space at the city’s industrial park could begin within days following city council approval, on Monday, of a construction contract with Lenci …

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Council okays Lamppa building contract

Denies Breitung request for recreational center funding assistance

Posted

TOWER—Construction on the new manufacturing space at the city’s industrial park could begin within days following city council approval, on Monday, of a construction contract with Lenci Enterprises, of Virginia. Lenci had offered the low bid, of $1.59 million, in late May, but final approval of the contract had to wait for completion of a business plan and other documents required by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, which is financing the project through a $1.85 million non-recourse loan.

Half of the 9,000 square-foot facility will house an expanded manufacturing space for Lamppa Manufacturing, which produces the cleanest and most efficient wood furnaces on the world market. The company has been unable to meet demand for its products for the past few years and needs a larger facility to boost production.

The remaining 4,500 square feet will be available for another business, or can be utilized by Lamppa Manufacturing as it needs additional space.

With the final approval of the construction contract, city engineer Matt Bolf said he would now issue the notice to proceed to Lenci. The actual start date was not immediately available.

In other business, the council heard from county commissioner candidate Paul Kess, who highlighted his ability to work in a non-partisan manner. “There are six candidates in the race and we’ll all talk pretty, but I’m the real deal,” he said. Kess cited a recent column by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who noted that even though politics at the national level is “messed up,” county and local officials are still managing to get the job done “because they don’t come in with partisan agendas.”

“Even though I’ve been a progressive Democrat over the years, I’ve built enough of a reputation for integrity and fairness, that I’m here with Angela Campbell, my campaign chairman, who is a Republican.”

Kess touted his experience as president of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools from 2016-17 and said he helped reinvigorate that organization to take “strong stands to support the iron mining industry, to support the possibilities of non-ferrous mining, to fight off the arbitrary sulfate standards for wild rice, and to support local government aid.”

“I’ve testified at the Legislature on these issues and at the county level I will continue to be a strong voice for the people of the Fourth,” he said.

He described himself as a fiscal conservative, who opposed the recent levy increase in Ely.

As for signature issues, he said he would focus on finding solutions to assist those with mental health issues and expanding childcare options.

In other action, the council:

 Denied a request from Breitung for financial assistance with the development of a Little League field adjacent to the township’s skating rink. The township has committed $3,000 to the concept design for the project and noted that the township currently incurs maintenance costs for the existing high school ballfield. But Mayor Carlson said he’d prefer to put the city’s money into developing a new Little League field in Tower. The council had dedicated $10,000 this year for that effort, but Carlson said city hall hasn’t had the time to pursue the project given other priorities.

 Approved a demolition grant request from the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center to the IRRRB to pay for portions of the center’s ongoing renovation project. The funds will be administered by the city.

 Heard from Matt Bolf that the wetland permits for the planned harbor town home project have been approved. He said he is still waiting on water and sewer permits and is reviewing comments from St. Louis County on the proposed plat. He said the city and the developer remain in discussion about the updated development agreement, in which the city is seeking a letter of credit from the developers. In related news, Bolf said he expects to have bids out for walkway construction around the harbor and trail and trailhead construction to the north of Hwy. 169. The project includes a paved connector trail from the harbor area to the Hoodoo Point bike path. That project has been delayed and Bolf said it’s critical to get construction underway by September given a funding deadline for the project of June 30 of next year.

 Approved a third change order on the Hoodoo Point sewer project and a pay estimate totaling $23,679 to Utility Systems of America.

 Heard from Ambulance Director Steve Altenburg, who said that the number of calls to the service are up by 53 over the same period last year. He noted that the temporary loss of one of the ambulance rigs while it was in the shop required the department to utilize mutual aid on some calls and transfer requests.

 Approved a resolution giving final approval to the Environmental Assessment Worksheet on the proposed Rose RV park, along with a finding that the project would not require an environmental impact statement. No findings of fact were available for council review, but City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith and Bolf will have five days to draft those and submit the completed decision to the EQB.

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