Eagle Lake Park sale ready for purchase agreement

Photo by Kathryn Wilkowski
Luna Johnson enjoys a break in her preferred napping spot in the flower bed outside her house. Elsewhere in town, loose cats are wreaking havoc in the flower beds of multiple residents, according to public reports during the open forum at Monday’s city council meeting.

By Robert Williams

Editor

A typically mundane open forum session of the Frazee City Council meeting Monday, July 18, was anything but that as residents were in attendance to address complaints of an unkempt yard and multiple animal issues in town.

The house in question with the yard maintenance issue is a local rental home. An ordinance warning was delivered to the owner and renter(s) by the police earlier this summer to no avail.

A violation letter will be mailed with potential fines of $400 and up to $800 for not cleaning up the property within five days of being notified.

A six pack of wild cats

Residents of Vergas reported a feral cat problem earlier this year and now cats are on the loose in multiple parts of Frazee, including over on Spruce Avenue, where at least six have been reported on the lam leaving droppings and damages in their wake.

“I have spent a lot of money on my yard, a lot of money on my flower beds,” Sandy Schultz said. “The plants are expensive and they’re using my flower beds as litter boxes and they’re busting all the plants down.”

According to Schultz, some, but not all, of the cats are owned by members of the neighborhood and are let loose by their owners. She also reported having a confrontation with one neighbor about the issue. Cats were also reported to be loose over on Maple Avenue by others.

The city does not have an ordinance on cats and thereby has little leverage in the situation other than mailing a letter to cat owners in the neighborhood to be mindful of their pets.

Dangerous dog back behind bars

Frazee does have a relatively new dog ordinance and a potentially dangerous dog case from November took up 20 minutes of the first half hour of Monday’s meeting as the dog in question is now back behind bars.

Last November, residents shared accounts of being attacked by the dog while walking or biking on a public sidewalk located between the elementary school and high school.

The council did not have an ordinance in place at the time and designated the dog as potentially dangerous based on state statute in November prior to creating the new city ordinance that was approved in December.

Photo by Kathryn Wilkowski
While Angel Johnson, a Frazee cat, enjoys her flower bed, she is not one of the troublemaker cats who were called out by residents at the most recent city council meeting on becoming a nuisance between Spruce and Maple Avenues.

The owner was notified of the potentially dangerous designation and the steps necessary to prevent another attack. If another attack occurred, the dog could be labeled a dangerous dog with penalties up to potential euthanization. Tuesday, the dog was reported to have attacked again recently and was on the loose unreported six to seven times in the past week.

“We would have taken action differently had we known that,” said police chief Tyler Trieglaff.

Mayor Ken Miosek emphasized the need for residents to contact the police or city offices in situations like this for proof and de-escalation of the situation.

Since then, the dog has been picked up and taken to the pound where it currently remains.

City attorney Thomas Winters fielded a flurry of questions from frustrated residents who do not want the dog released from the pound.

Winters noted the dog should not be released until the owners have proven they have satisfied all the demands under the potentially dangerous designation which are: proof of continuing liability insurance in a single incident amount of $300,000; proof that said dog has been sterilized and has current vaccinations; and a yearly registration fee of $200.

Winters and the board were faced with a volley of vehement questions, “Does the dog have to kill somebody?” and “Does a kid have to go to the hospital or get his face chewed up?” and “Does a dog have more rights than a human here?”

An upgraded designation of the dog being deemed a dangerous dog by statute is rather ambiguous, but can be done by the council or police chief, while the owner has the right to appeal.

The latest incident reported was the dog cornering a child in the neighborhood. Last November’s incident involved an actual attack with multiple bites.

Neighbors also reported that the dog in question has been targeting children specifically, which explains heightened tensions about the issue.

The dangerous designation comes with the stipulations the dog must be muzzled and under control at all times. 

Misdemeanor charges could be filed for a number of violations, including not complying with the registration requirements and allowing the dog to run at large. When off the owner’s property, a dangerous dog must be leashed and be under the control of a competent adult at all times.

The dog will remain impounded until brought into compliance.

Euthanization is a last resort option should the parties not find an applicable agreement to the situation.

Neighboring residents noted the dog should have been deemed dangerous months ago, prior to the recent incident of the dog unmuzzled and on the loose threatening children.

While the dog has been impounded, the owners have not been notified officially of the terms of the ordinance. 

“This is uncharted territory,” said Winters. “It’s not something we deal with all the time, so before we put the city at risk by giving the okay to euthanize the dog I’m going to want to make sure we’re definitely in the clear on that.”

Multiple testimonies and photos are being submitted to the council as proof of the dog’s behavior. Currently, the dog will remain in custody until all the requirements are met for a potentially dangerous dog designation. A designation of a dangerous dog may be coming after the evidence is reviewed.

Animal ordinance to include snakes

Vice mayor Mike Sharp announced the city’s animal ordinance will potentially allow non-venomous snakes, lizards and reptiles that are kept in cages to coincide with the future opening of the Reptile Hideout pet store on Maple Avenue.

According to Trieglaff, the reptiles being bred and sold there would not survive the winter, so are not classified as an invasive species.

Sharp noted the store owner will need to appear before the Planning and Zoning committee prior to full-time opening to discuss particulars of the business.

The chicken ordinance is still in planning and zoning with the committee looking to highlight what is manageable in the draft ordinance prior to bringing the matter back to council for approval.

Swimming lessons affected by construction

Town Lake beach will be closed due to ongoing construction from July 25-28. The closing dates will interrupt swimming lessons currently scheduled during the timeframe. Parents are asked to contact the community education office or the swimming instructors directly for more information.

Eagle Lake Park sale progressing

The newly-formed Eagle Lake Park Association has accepted the city’s sale price of $190,000 for the park property. The next step is to complete a purchase agreement after a second appraisal to appease bank lending. Other specifics to the sale like removal of the bathroom on the property and a decision on the playground equipment and the dock are still to be made. The purchase agreement should be ready for signing at the next council meeting in August.

The Planning and Zoning committee and the finance committee are scheduling a future meeting to determine how to properly disperse the profit from the sale amongst such projects as the Town Lake beach renovation and maintenance and repair of the Event Center, among others.

Fire department receives donations

The Frazee Fire Department received two donations, one for $2,000 from TIP Inc. Otter Tail Chapter and a $300 donation from the Lake Seven Lake Association.

Staff reports

Trieglaff reported 87 police calls for the month of June with only eight traffic related. The department completed taser training and will be looking at upgrades. A body camera audit was also completed. Audits are required every two years.

Frazee Rescue responded to 22 calls in the month, seven in town. The department also added two new members.

The fire department responded to 11 calls in June, mostly due to storm activity. 

In public works, superintendent Larry Stephenson reported a big water month in June in which the city used 5,950,000 gallons of water.

“A lot of that is going to the water and sewer project on Lake Street for compaction and watering the roads, flushing the new main system in a few different areas,” he said.

A substantial leak surfaced during the construction. That repair dropped consumption significantly overnight, according to Stephenson. 

The department is searching for two more suspected leaks in the area.

Public Works added 104 pounds of fluoride to the city’s water; 2.54 million gallons of wastewater was sent to the plant for treatment. In June, 13.925 million gallons were discharged into the Rapid Infiltration (RI) basins – total for the year is 22,282,000 gallons.

Highway 87 project

The water and sewer work from Maple Avenue to the city beach is progressing. Currently, water and sewer service lines are being installed into the residential lots. Once complete, the water and sanitary sewer will be worked on from the hilltop down to the city beach, which will take roughly two weeks.

City engineers met with Becker County on a future project on East Main to replace water and sewer to highway 87. The city has some small ancillary projects, including near the lumberyard, that will likely be tacked on to the future project.

Water Tower improvement

Frazee resident Addison Freeman presented a sketch for potential art to be applied to improve the look of the city water tower.

Freeman began sketching her idea of a hornet and a turkey after looking at neighboring town’s towers and noting the Frazee tower was a bit boring.

The tower has not been repainted since its installation in 1999. A three-year-old report on the condition of the tower was positive, other than some fading of the exterior paint and minor structural repairs like wiring routing to the cell antennas on top and ladder improvement. At the time of the report, the cost for repairs and painting the interior and exterior of the two was approximately $400,000. The earliest window for repainting the tower is around five years from now.

Miosek thanked Freeman for bringing the topic to the council.

“It shows that some of our young people are looking around at our town and we appreciate that—ways to improve and ways to move on,” he said.

VFW clears 60-day report

Upon reopening in early May after having its liquor license suspended by the city council and the state’s department of public safety director, the Frazee VFW Post 7702 was required to submit a 30 and 60-day report to the council.

Commander Robert Clarey reported that the VFW has met the stipulations put forth by the council, namely server training for employees, and adherence to appropriate state statutes.

All requirements have been met and maintained for the city and state liquor licenses, along with a temporary permit for Turkey Days.

The VFW reported profits in both of the first two months since reopening. 

Liquor Store management needed

Councilman Mark Flemmer raised the need for a liquor store manager and potentially a new management system to track off and on sale inventory.

The new system is needed to track transfers from on to off sale and to the Event Center, which is currently not being accurately reported in the current system.

A new system, including point of sale computers, touch pads and software was estimated to cost roughly $5,000 to $10,000.

According to city administrator Jordin Roberts, the most feasible way to hire a manager for the liquor store is to combine the job with the Event Center manager position.

Flemmer reported inventory tracking issues that would likely be answered with a manager in place. He also questioned the validity of keeping a municipal liquor store in business, rather than allowing a private enterprise to take over. The statement was food for thought, more than an outright implication.

“We have to start thinking where do we really want to go with the liquor store?” Flemmer said. “Maybe the city gets out of the liquor business completely. If we’re not transferring any money to the city from the municipal side then why are we having a liquor store at all? Maybe our citizens will be better served by a private group.”

By way of comparison, a 2021 audit of the city of Vergas showed the city liquor store there was able to generate $60,000 to be put in the general fund.