Spooner City Hall

SPOONER– Spooner City Council discussed repairs needed at the First Street baseball field (Merchant Park) at its July 2 monthly meeting. The repairs mainly concern the collapsing rear wall of the third base dugout which had been renovated last fall.

With financial help from the city which had been requested by the Spooner Cardinals baseball team, both the first and third base dugouts which previously had been at field level were dug out and enlarged with covered spectator seating constructed above. The city spent $57,548 last year for the renovations at the ball field, according to Spooner City Clerk Patricia Parker.

City Administrator Bill Marx said at the meeting that the third base dugout wall had not been built properly and would have to be torn down and replaced. Also indicated during the meeting was a beam needing strengthening at the first base dugout although there was no present structural failure.

Darin Baier, representing the Spooner Cardinals, asked council if the city could hold the company that constructed the wall accountable at all. Mayor Gary Cuskey said that the city did not have a contract and was not involved in the planning and design of the project and the Cardinals were the “point guys” and had directed the project. Baier said that the city wrote the checks, though, to which Alderperson Terri Reiter responded, “You [Cardinals] asked for the money.” Reiter then asked Baier whether the Cardinals have a contract with the company, to which Baier indicated he did not know of a written contract.

Marx further explained in a later interview that the third base dugout is built into a bank consisting of higher clay content in the soil which holds water more and increases soil pressure on the wall. He said even though the wall is built with filled cement block, he believes the soil pressure was too much. He said that drain tile should have been placed in the ground surrounding the dugout walls, allowing the water to drain out and away.

Marx said he believes the repairs will not require the total demolition and rebuilding of the dugout but will require excavation of the surrounding ground, separating and tearing out the back wall, and rebuilding it with poured concrete.

Marx said that that the city will be in charge of any further construction on the wall. He recommended the issue be referred back to committee to find a right price for the repairs since previous high estimates of $60,000 were for the total demolition and rebuilding. Cuskey said the project needed to be pushed down the road due to a lack of adequate funding presently. Baier asked at the end of the meeting if there was going to be any way to use the dugout during the upcoming tournaments. Cuskey responded that they will try to remedy the problem as soon as possible but that it would not be before the end of the season.

Other business

> Council approved hiring Errick Kafura as a new full-time Spooner police officer. Kafura was introduced by Spooner Police Chief Jerry Christman and sworn in by Cuskey during the mayor’s comments portion of the meeting. Recently Noah Horsch was hired as a full-time officer. He had worked for the department before, transferred to Burnett County, and transferred back.

> After the meeting Captain Steve Pank said that Kafura was from the local area and had not worked in another department before and that Kafura had about three weeks of field training left. Pank said both new officers were replacing two full-time officers who were leaving the department.

> Council approved releasing the lis pendens the city had previously filed on 129 Walnut St. In January of 2018 bricks had fallen onto the sidewalk from the building owned by John Hedlund. The city declared the property a public nuisance and hired repairs to the building later in the spring. The lis pendens, which translates from Latin as “suit pending,” was explained later by Parker to be like a lien on the property for the city to get paid for the repairs. The lis pendens was no longer necessary since the city had filed a special assessment with Washburn County and will collect the funds from assessments on the property taxes over the next five years.

> Council approved budgeting $21,050 in the 2020 budget for speed alert signs for Hwys. 63 and 70 and a portable speed and messaging board. In addition to messaging motorists and telling them their speed, the board also collects traffic data that allows officers to do a more efficient job, Christman said. An example he gave would be determining a time frame when the most speeding is occurring on a particular road, then allowing officers to target that time window.

> Council approved a bid for a new squad truck for $28,483.

> Council approved placing speed limit signs on Northwestern Drive.

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