Town Lake Beach project cleared to proceed
By Robert Williams
City Administrator Stephanie Poegel initiated a discussion on a potential Becker County housing project in Frazee at the meeting of the city council on Monday, Oct. 9.
Becker County Housing Programs are administered by the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation (MMCDC) and there are grant funds available for the county to build a multi-family facility on a portion of the Mikkelsen property next to Dollar General.
Poegel discussed income guidelines MMCDC to help clarify the particulars of what is deemed low-income.
The concern of the majority of the council is not to be overrun with low-income housing.
The county plan was to purchase a 1-acre portion of the parcel and build one to two multi-family buildings of 20 units with eight being slated for low-income qualifiers. The remainder of the rental units would be leased at market rate.
When discussing the income guidelines, Poegel noted that there are existing city employees who would qualify.
The likely location of the structure would be near the existing Maple Avenue apartments.
With new Economic Development Authority Specialist Cody Piper now on board, the county is looking to apply for grants to complete these projects, Poegel said. Looming deadlines for those grant applications are compounding the decision-making, but the city council is unwilling to blindly agree to a proposal without seeing any specifics.
“I think if the county comes in here, I’d like to know what their plan is,” said council member Andrea Froeber. “I would like us to entertain some other options. It can still be low-income and we can work with the county, but it would make it more palatable to have a different plan.”
Council member Mark Kemper had stronger comments on the potential proposal.
“My biggest concern is once it’s built there are no regulations that they can’t go the opposite way; unless the county is willing to obtain some standards into keeping it up,” said Kemper. “I’m not against building it, but I want some standards from the county.”
Kemper accused the MMCDC of not keeping up similar properties in Detroit Lakes, while noting there are rent-subsidized units in Detroit Lakes that are kept up well.
“If they aren’t going to keep it up, we don’t want it,” said Kemper. “We don’t need any more rundown places in town.”
The conversation also turned to prior discussions for that particular parcel, which have included more senior housing, specifically one-level two to three-bedroom units, either duplexes or townhomes.
“We have a lot of people who would like to see more homeowners in town,” council member Jim Rader said. “This does not follow that narrative either, because we’re talking about rental properties.”
The initial contact from the county was the gauge if the city is open to the possibility of a rental project. Without more specific information such as the number of units, which acre of the parcel, and design concepts, that seems to be less than affirmative.
“It is important that we have affordable housing,” said Froeber. “But we owe it to the people here not to bring in something that won’t make them happy or will lower the value of their homes.”
The city council instructed Poegel to invite a county representative to present more information to the council at an upcoming council meeting.
The council approved to accept proposal requests for multi-family housing developments on city-owned land in May.
Town Lake Beach
The city received a response from the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in regards to the Phase II archaeological survey that was conducted at Town Lake Beach. SHPO has greenlighted future construction at the beach, along with approvals from the Office of the State Archeologist and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC).
The MIAC has requested that an archaeologist be on site during any digging to monitor and examine any potential finds of historic significance.
Multiple surveys were conducted after fragments of a Knife River Flint flake (chip of stone from making a stone tool) were found. The artifact was stated to be an exotic material, which does not naturally occur in central Minnesota.
That find and the subsequent surveys have been holding up the planned improvements at the beach since 2021. The project was slated to utilize a $250,000 grant. Discussed improvements included a new beach house, new bathrooms, an area with concessions and non-motorized boat rentals, as well as a place to gather.
The city has received a state grant of $59,000 to be used by the Police and Fire Departments.
The public safety departments will submit a written plan on how they prefer to use the funds, which will be dispersed in late December.
The city council approved a contract to finalize a Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant from the Partnership4Health Community Health Board (P4H CHB). The grant total was $3,000 with a 10 percent city match that provides three bicycle racks and one repair station.
The council approved a bid to purchase and have installed a BOSS snowplow and accessories for the new city Ford F-250 truck for the price of $11,281.90.
The council voted to terminate the lease with Minnesota Flyers Gymnastics for lawful gambling activity at Third Crossing Bar & Lounge and enter into a new lease with the Perham Area Youth Hockey Association (PAYHA).
Outgoing liquor store manager Tanya Mastin explored options with the PAYHA coming in with the most acceptable offer.
The lease with the Flyers will terminate after a 30-day notice.
The second city council meeting in November will be moved to Wednesday, Nov. 29, to avoid the Thanksgiving holiday. The meeting is scheduled to be held at the Event Center beginning at 4:30 p.m.