Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Kabetogama Fire Hall
Re: Puck’s Point Subordinate Service District proposed Wastewater Project
Work Meeting Minutes
Meeting was called to order by Chairman Robert Nevalainen at 1:05 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Roll Call was taken and all Supervisors, Deputy Clerk, and Treasurer were present. The Town Clerk was unable to attend.
In addition to the above, the following invited guests were in attendance: Dennis Tabbert, USDA Rural Development, Chris Holbeck, Voyageur’s National Park, Curtis Sparks, Engineer, Jacques Whitford NAWE, Curt Arnold, MN DNR (on behalf of John Steigmeir), Rebecca Luedtke, DNR Division of Forestry, Mike Forsman, St. Louis County Commissioner and Richard Hyrkss, St. Louis County Environmental Services, and Bridget Chard, Consultant for the Township. On the phone for the majority of the work meeting was Ms. Darlene Magges, USDA Rural Development State Office. Attorney Bob Ruppe was not in attendance. A sign in sheet is attached
Project Status – Curtis Sparks, Engineer for the Township
Mr. Sparks has large maps of the Puck’s Point and Voyageur Park Lodge areas along with the Woodenfrog Campground proposed wastewater treatment and disposal site. He gave a small historical background of the beginnings of the project in the Township which began in 2003. He indicated that the firm had prepared a Preliminary Engineering Report back in 2005-2006 and then did an Individual Service Connection Analysis in 2007 to determine the costs. Due to the unique topography of the area and the density issues with the project, both the collection and treatment portions were challenging. The design identified a STEP (septic tank effluent pump) system on the properties connecting to lines in public rights-of-way which would go to a recirculating gravel technology which is now a common technology used. He further explained the issue with the collection system costs due to distances and bedrock and the lack of a decent “large” site for treatment and disposal.
The suggestion of a second site going through Voyageur National Park land to a parcel of land owned by the Kabetogama Lake Association was proposed. The Engineer indicated that they could take a look at this in the spring and determine a general cost for the Township to consider adding into the present project.
Ms. Luedtke, DNR discussed the lease arrangements in the letter sent to the Township Board which requires a ten (10) year lease with other conditions. Discussions were done regarding the fact the Rural Development might have a problem with this due to the fact that the loan was for a forty year duration and they would need assurances for that length of time. There were a few more items to put into the final Facilities Plan as well identified in the letter. Ms. Luedtke stated that it was also a liability issue for their part should the system be abandoned. She will check on the leasing arrangements to see if it can be extended through a contractual basis with some type of conditions for assurances. She will need the type and terms of the loan and then she will ask the Office of General Council (OGC) to see if it is adequate. As to the second treatment and disposal site, it would also go through the park land and easements will need to be done.
Rural Development – Mr. Dennis Tabbert, USDA RD Virginia and Ms. Darlene Magges, USDA State
Mr. Tabbert began by thanking everyone there and began to give a general overview of the Water and Wastewater Disposal Program criteria. The Township meets the criteria because they are a public body,
meet the population criteria and therefore can receive a loan with a grant component based on income. He indicated that the Township met the income profile for a grant of some kind. It was identified as being $42,000 per median household income (MHI) for the 2000 census. He indicated that if the Township thought the project had a lower income level that they could request from the Federal level to do an income survey. If approved though and the income survey was completed, then they would have to go with that number. He cautioned that perhaps they might want to stay with what they have since they do qualify for some grant although small. Currently the loan rates are at about 4.3/8% market rate. Currently the Township qualifies for the intermediate rate which is 4.5%.
The demand for the money is very high and therefore they will usually partner with others for funding projects such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Wastewater Infrastructure Funding (WIF), Public Facilities Authority (PFA), Small Cities Grants and monies through MPCA such as State Revolving Loan Funding, etc. Question is how much loan can the Township afford? Affordability is usually 1.5% of MHI, which translates into $52.50/month per EDU. At approximately 70 Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDUs), they would qualify for 70% loan and 30% grants for the project. Interim financing could be made available in different ways including working with the Rural Water and others. Will need to work with others for the whole package which is about 2.15 million to get this project done. Ineligible fees would be grant writer fees, street improvements beyond the existing, private property connections with some exceptions. A permanent owner access easement would be required. Interest in this was indicated especially on the south end of the project (Voyageur Park Lodge). Could make the sewer a little more fundable if public right of way is obtained. Other issues that would impact this would be public health issues a failure of systems. Suggestion may be to do compliance inspections in the spring and send them to the state. St. Louis County Environmental Services suggested that they be sent directly to the State since the State will be working with the permitting. The MHI for the Township is over the required MHI for 45% MHI and they are above the poverty threshold. It appears that at this time the project cannot be wholly fundable by just RD. Concerns about costs were expressed by landowners and how it this can be dealt with.
At this point Mr. Holbeck from Voyageur’s National Park addressed the nutrient studies that were conducted on the lake. He noted that the bloom is not a natural bloom. This is the first year of a three year study and he supports the efforts to clean up the lake. Coli bacterial alone showed significant colonies. Core study is for algae; however, they found mammal bacteria and when DNA tested human coli were found. This is a priority issue with regards to the lake since it can cause public health and safety issues. A request from the Town Board and the Township Engineer to supply data was done. Mr. Holbeck will coordinate with the Township Engineer to get what data that is available. Voyageurs National Park will support the efforts in whatever way they can and suggested that this would be a good time to do it or at least get a request in for an appropriation. Congressman Oberstar submitted the bill and worked hard to get the Park and it seems that it would a good fit to work with him to help clean it up and make it an economic and healthy environment again. At this point, it was suggested that VNP be designated as impaired water since it is currently an ORVW. At this point, some landowners expressed concern about tourism and their economics should the perception about the lake be made known. It was suggested that because they were already ahead of the curve to work towards clean-up that that might be a positive factor.
Mr. Tabbert continued through the pre-application materials and indicated that an application for Stage I have begun and most of the items have been completed. He received a number of them today. He finished his materials and answered questions. A question from the Consultant as to the proper designation for the application will be cleared up after research by Mr. Tabbert.
Financing – Bridget Chard, Consultant for the Township
Discussion on the present status of the financing was given during the discussions above. Consultant Chard identified the following: Rural Development (Stage I almost completed), WIF has been submitted, Project Priority Listing completed (only 28 points at the present time.need 40 to get somewhere), IRR (Iron Range Resources) for Engineering costs (to be submitted), CBDG (Community Block Development Grants) were solicited; however, the project was not eligible. The LCMR (Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources) deadline was missed for this funding session. It derives its’ money from the lottery for the environment. NETCSC (National Environmental Training Center) which has the NOPD (National On-Site Demonstration Projects funded by EPA) was contacted; however, the funding has been stripped. The 569 Program is currently not available until possibly sometime in the next year after the election. There was one other program that will be researched which is the MPCA (MN Pollution Control Agency’s) program for small communities. The program is funded by the legislature and will now do cluster systems. The Rural Development State Office party, Ms. Magges, suggested that this might be another funding option to add to the process and encouraged the Township to check it out.
St. Louis County Comments – Mr. Richard Hyrkss and Commissioner Forsman
At this point, Mr. Hyrkss from St. Louis County and Commissioner Forsman were asked for their comments. Commissioner Forsman thanked everyone for coming and stated that St. Louis County would help support the efforts with the Township. He encouraged the Town Board present a request for a Resolution in support of the efforts. He was certain that it would be honored. The Consultant also stated that they would probably also request a monetary effort as well since they had done this for other Townships in the past. He further stated that he would also take any information and request out to the Federal level when they met in the early summer in June for the transportation committee work. The Consultant inquired as to when St. Louis County had their Day at the Capitol and would it help to have the Board meet with the legislators down there as well. The answer was in the affirmative. Commissioner Forsman indicated the CBDG monies come directly to the County and also indicated that the project probably was not fundable since he checked. Mr. Hyrkss indicated that he knew the area well and the problems with wastewater systems up there. He was concerned, but surprised about the potential of a public health issue and said that they would definitely work with all concerned.
A question was asked if Woodenfrog Park was included in the hook-ups. The Engineer said yes. The State Park people indicated that they want to be good stewards as well to the lake. As to funding help, that was left unknown at this time. VNP said the same…that their budgets were struggling.
Landowners asked if the piping could go under the lake to Voyageur Park Lodge and the landowners there and if it has ever been done. Engineer said it has been done; however, they would have to check this out.
Directional drilling or blasting would be contingent on permits, water depth, etc. An Environmental Report and the Preliminary Engineering Report would be needed to be done. It was suggested that the Town Board consider the training being provided by Rural Water Association. Consultant indicated that there was a session in Bemidji on the 12th of February in case the Board members could attend.
At this point, Commissioner Forsman asked that Mr. Gary Cerkvenik be recognized. He was a prior Saint Louis County Commissioner and is now a Lobbyist. He worked with the Crane Lake Sanitary District to get their financing. He also worked with the DNR project and moved it from a ranking of 431 to #1 and helped to get it funded.
At this point, he indicated that the biggest assets for leveraging funds to the Township were the State DNR and Voyageur’s National Park. He felt that a direct appropriation would be what is needed here and that the Township should look at a bigger picture and take in the whole side of the lake and do it all.
Some of the items covered by Mr. Cerkvenik were:
· Direct Appropriations – Apply to Department of Interior (VNP to provide stats to help this)
o Need statistics to show the members of Congress
o National Park FY 2009
§ St. Louis County Resolution / package
§ VNP letter
§ DNR – legislative / send letter
· 569 Program – Annual appropriation will be in 2009
· LCMR – Apply to it when it becomes opened up
· State Bonding by Request to the Department of Finance
Suggestion is to also partnership with resource protection groups. Mr. Holbeck suggested that the Township contact the Voyageur National Park Advisory Committee which helped to get the Park set up. They have some very strong allegiances to the Park and might be able to help. There was a consensus that there should be a packet of information (short and sweet) to hand out to legislators and congressmen and women to support the efforts. The Town Board was asked if they were ready to consider a
“bigger picture” and work towards this. At that point there was no firm answer.
The meeting was breaking up and the Board Chairman thanked everyone for coming and that they felt it was a productive meeting. Motion by Supervisor Town, seconded by Supervisor Nevalainen to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned at 3.50 p.m.
Submitted by: B. Chard
Amendments, if any: