Alexandria Airport gets sweeper to help jets land
“Most of these larger aircraft decide to divert to St Cloud or another area airport rather than attempting the landing here,” said Alexandria Airport Manager Kreg Anderson.
ALEXANDRIA — The council approved Airport Manager Kreg Anderson’s request to purchase a 1995 Oshkosh sweeper that will clear compacted snow and ice on runways down to the bare surface, making it safer for jets and other large aircraft to land.
“Most of these larger aircraft decide to divert to St Cloud or another area airport rather than attempting the landing here,” Anderson noted in a letter to the city. “From talking to regional airports around the state, the best piece of equipment to handle these issues is a large sweeper.”
The cost of the sweeper is $47,400 and includes transport expenses of $5,400.
The city is waiting for reimbursement in the amount of $705,061 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to construct a new T-hangar. Because of this, the balance in the Airport Development Fund is minus-$617,185. From time to time, this fund can have a negative balance due to many airport projects being reimbursable, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz. When this happens, the city covers the cost of the improvement, submits a request to the state, and then waits for payment.
With a major runway project under way, this will be a likely scenario for the next several years, Schultz said.
Because a new sweeper would cost around $700,000, city staff recommended purchasing the used model.
The city also hopes to receive $20,000 to $30,000 from the sale of the backup plow to offset the cost of the sweeper. This will be listed soon at auction.
Proceeds from those who use the airport — such as hangar renters and pilots who refuel — help offset the costs of equipment.
The sweeper will be used on all runways and taxiways, not just on the runway for jets. The council asked Anderson how many jets have been turned away. Anderson said during one week in December, four or five planes were diverted.
The council noted that the jets that land here are not just for the "elite or rich." The aircraft, for example, includes FedEx planes that help city residents and businesses get their mail.
Following are other items from the Feb. 13 meeting not included in other council coverage.
Public comment period draws 4 speakers
The public comment period — which was discontinued a couple of years ago — drew four speakers to the microphone at the start of Monday's meeting.
The council voted to discontinue the public comment period in October 2020 after several speakers used the time to raise allegations against a council member.
The rules were more strict and clear at Monday's meeting. Mayor Bobbie Osterberg read 25 rules governing the public comment period. Each speaker, for example, was given three minutes to state their comments and council members weren't allowed to respond to any questions.
Judd Hoff questioned the city's Jan. 9 decision to pursue buying a used sweeper for the airport to accommodate jets and other large aircraft. He said the city should focus on keeping taxes down and not cater to "rich movie stars" who fly into Alexandria. He also said the used sweeper was 28 years old and would require a lot of maintenance and updating that would also burden taxpayers.
Wendy Hoff asked when the city would take action against city employees who publicly display altered flag designs. She said such actions constitute a breech of contract and city employees who don't comply with flag laws should be fired.
Bob Beliveau, who had purchased several mobile homes in 2015 and 2016 that he put up for rent, expressed frustration over new laws that were passed during COVID-19 that didn't allow landlords to evict tenants for not paying rent.
Retired Reverend John Riggle said he was impressed with the city's new master plan for parks and trails in the city, but he added he was disappointed with the council's Jan. 9 decision to not seek a state transportation grant for a trail that would pave Section 3 of the Alexandria Nature Trail. He said that not pursuing the grant now will only add to the costs of improving the trail in the future.
Mobile home deemed hazardous
A mobile home at 1611 6th Ave. East, Lot F3 in Viking City, was deemed hazardous by the city.
The council agreed to initiate the hazardous property abatement project.
State law allows the city to order the property owner to demolish the structure or fix the hazardous conditions.
The city has used this process many times in the past to clean up hazardous properties in town.
In the council’s hazardous order, the Lot F3 property was described as “inadequately maintained, dilapidated, has physical damage, is unsanitary and is a hazard to public safety and health.”
The property owner has 20 days from the time the order is issued to at least respond to the city's action.
Cable franchise agreement extended
The council agreed to give Spectrum Mid-America, formerly Charter, an extension to its cable franchise agreement with the city.
The extension goes through Aug. 11, 2023 unless an agreement is reached before that time.
The agreement would have expired on Feb. 11. The city has been working with Spectrum for more than a year on the terms of the franchise renewal, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz. Because of some staff departures at Spectrum, discussions have been on hold for six months, he added.
State aid funds advanced
The council approved an action that will allow the city to advance state aid funds that are available in its state aid construction account.
The city has passed a similar resolution nearly every year, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz. It does not automatically allocate the funds but rather sets them aside at the state aid office so they are available for future use.
The maximum amount the city can advance is five times its construction allocation, which amounts to nearly $4 million.
Water quality committee member
The council voted to appoint City Planner Mike Weber as an interim member of the Douglas County Water Quality Legacy Fund Committee.
The committee generally meets quarterly but could meet a couple more times annually if there are projects that warrant its consideration.