2009 Archive

January 21, 2009: I’ve been harping about the mess in City Hall since way back then. So far, the only significant improvement I’ve seen is that there’s a water heater in the bathroom now.
No One

The Editor attended the Jordan City Council meeting last night (1/20/09). A significant part of the meeting was given over to discussing furniture arrangement in the council chambers. One councilmember made the comment that “most meetings are like tonight – there’s no one out there.” Kathy Lapic is no one? Steve Kochlin is no one? The woman who asked the question about vehicles on paths is no one? This writer is no one?

Maybe more people would attend if they weren’t made to feel like outsiders. Who gets the cheap seats? Who has to stand while addressing whom? People who have faced the indignity of having to climb over five or six other people, to face the further indignity of standing before a group of people who are supposed to be their peers, will not likely repeat the process. People who are told that the time for public comment is passed, and they will not be allowed to speak, won’t likely come back to try again.

Maybe more people would attend if the chambers were cleaner and in better repair. When we come to City Hall, we’re greeted by a building that’s dirty and in disrepair. There’s mildew on the outside walls, dirt and stains on the carpets and mats, peeling paint, non-functioning plumbing, and pink panther fur stuck to the insides of the vents. As if to add insult to injury, one staffer told me last night that the insulation in the vents has been there for a long time – that it started to accumulate a few years ago when the city did some insulating.

What we see is not simple wear and tear. It’s institutionalized neglect, done in an attempt to convince people that City Hall is inadequate. We know that City Hall is inadequate in many ways, but that doesn’t justify the state of disrepair into which the building has fallen.

Maybe more people would attend if they didn’t/t feel they were being talked down to. Interrupting, answering questions with questions, mumbling, and not using microphones sends a message to people that they are little more than a nuisance to be put up with. Saying that “staff need their chairs”, and “we can’t ask them to sit in those uncomfortable plastic chairs for a couple of hours”, while expecting attendees to sit in those uncomfortable chairs, is certainly not a sign of respect. Perhaps as a show of solidarity, everyone should sit on plastic chairs. That would probably shorten City Council meetings too.

Maybe more people would attend if they felt the council was going to deal with substantive issues. Why sit in one of those uncomfortable chairs while the Council talks about where the tables should be, or what the definition of “downtown” is. Most people don’t give a rip about how big a log pile is permitted in the city. When that type of issue arises, perhaps the Council should say “Work it out with your neighbor, or we’ll make a law that neither one of you likes.”

Where’s the public discussion of how city taxes affect the school tax levy? After all, one reason people choose to come to Jordan is the quality of our schools. What will happen to the city if management of the school district is taken over by the state?

Maybe more people would attend meetings if they were getting meaningful information in a format they could use. Flooding a screen with numbers isn’t particularly useful to most people. Saying the numbers are available, but you don’t have them on hand is also not helpful. If yesterday’s meeting was supposed to be a time for annual reports from departments, there wasn’t a lot of information available. And none of it was presented in printed form for people to read. A simple sheet with bullet points for each department would have been nice to have.

We’re not dumb. We understand that there are subtleties to be dealt with in many situations, but surely some simplified information could be made available from time to time.

And maybe more people would attend if they thought the Council was running the city, rather than just ratifying staff recommendations. A significant majority of people voted for change in Jordan, but we still got hit with a budget and tax increase. A significant number of people spoke out against the Broadway/Second Street intersection changes, and yet the Council followed staff recommendations, favoring MnDOT over those peoples’ voices. More recently, the repaving of Park Drive seems to have fallen from the sky, with little or no input from the public.

As an act of good faith, this writer is willing to volunteer four hours time to help clean up the council chambers and downstairs bathrooms. Is anyone from the council or staff willing to match that? Four or five people with a carpet cleaner, some spackling compound, and some concrete patch could spruce the place up quite a bit.

And to those of you who seldom or never attend Council meetings, keep in mind that it’s easy to ignore people you don’t see. By this writer’s fuzzy math, there are about 2000 voters in Jordan. If just 1% of the voters showed up at a meeting, there’d be 20 attendees. Do you think the city would be run differently if 20 people showed up at every meeting? I do.

 

January 28, 2009: JUG ran a note about a school levy referendum meeting.

Hello,
You are invited to attend Jordan’s first Referendum Committee 2009 meeting on Monday, February 2nd at 7:00PM in the JHS Lecture Room.

Belle Plaine Superintendent, Dr. Kelly Smith and Montgomery-Lonsdale Superintendent, Dr. Corey Lunn will join us for an informational meeting to share their referendum success stories and discuss referendum strategies.  This will be a terrific opportunity to listen and learn from our neighboring school districts about how they worked to pass operating levies.

You are leaders in this community and have received this invitation because you have participated on previous school district committees, have asked to be included, or your name has been suggested by a community member.

Please forward this message to anyone who may be interested in attending this informational meeting.

On behalf of the Board of Education, we look forward to seeing you Monday night.

Sincerely,
Sheila Bauer, Director
Board of Education, ISD #717
952-492-6190 (h)
“It is today we must create the world of the future.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

 

February 3, 2009: Tim Bischke is the guru of bicycling in Jordan, but people seem to forget that he’s an independent businessman.
Talking to Tim Bischke

This week we’re talking to Tim Bischke,  Mr. Bischke operates Storage Solutions, a business that helps people organize and make better use of their spaces. www.StorageSolutionsMN.com  He’s also a member of the Jordan Park and Recreation Commission (PRC) and an avid bicyclist.  He’s lived in Jordan 15 years.

JUG: Tim, thanks for sharing your time with us.  Since you’re an independent business person here in Jordan, let’s start with your observations about business conditions.  What do you see in Jordan’s business climate?

TB:  Not much of my business occurs here.  I go pretty much all over the metro area and even a little beyond.  The conditions I observe are that many small retail businesses are struggling here.  Jordan is in a somewhat unique position for retail business as it’s too close to larger cities (Shakopee, Prior Lake/Savage and Chaska) making it hard to compete.  I’m not sure why but both New Prague and Belle Plaine seem to be doing much better.  I’m sure increased internet shopping also plays a part.

JUG: Is there anything you’d suggest to the city to boost the local business climate?

TB:  Try to find more niches that other towns don’t have such as our antique shops.  Maybe rents could be subsidized?  Patronize them as much as you can.  I know lots of things have been tried, it’s a tough challenge.

JUG: To segue to your interest in bicycling, does it surprise you that there’s no bike shop or repair place in Jordan?

TB:  It doesn’t surprise me as bike shops are few & far between. It usually takes a pretty large biking population to support one.  It would be nice having one here but happily a small independent shop (Paul’s Bicycle Repair) opened up in downtown Shakopee last fall.  I encourage people to support them for repairs and new bikes.  Hardware & discount store bikes are very low end even though they may look similar to better bikes.

JUG: Do you have a favorite area or route to ride?  Street riding, trail riding, BMX or what?

TB: My choice is riding on paved trails such as the Cannon Valley & Sakatah Trails.  I’ve ridden most of Minnesota’s bike trails & have been doing some GPS mapping for “Rails-to-Trails Conservancy”.  Since we don’t have any trails in the immediate Jordan area I ride the roads around here in most directions.

My favorite route is township road 57 past the fairgrounds and state park (smooth pavement & little traffic); then into Belle Plaine crossing under 169 by Emma Krumbees.  Then I take a variety of roads back to Jordan.  There is one steep hill on CR 64 a couple miles northeast of Belle Plaine which gets my heart pumping hard.  This route is about 24 miles long.

JUG: And what about Winter riding – do you do it?

TB:  My Minnesota riding usually ends mid-November and doesn’t start again until mid to late March.   I’ve ridden every month of the year but I’m not much for riding on snow & ice as it’s too dangerous.  (In winter, I cross country ski when conditions are favorable.)  The last couple of years we’ve taken biking vacations to warmer places.  Part of my biking interest is exploring new areas.

JUG: You’re a member of the Jordan Park and Recreation Commission.  What do you see coming for the PRC in the next year?

TB:  We’ve presented lots of good ideas to the city such as bike routes & trails, disk golf, improved ballfields, shelters, fishing pier, etc. Hopefully, we can turn some of these ideas into reality although funds are limited.

JUG: And a free-form question, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

TB:  I’d like to invite anyone who bikes to join us for the Chamber’s 6th annual “Jordan Valley Bike Tour” June 20th (see JVBT.org).  Volunteers are always very welcome.  Personally, I’m always looking for biking companions.

 

February, 13, 2009: I guess I couldn’t think of a catchy headline.

The editor is a newly minted member of the Jordan Park and Recreation Committeee – also known as the park board. All members of the committee are always open to public input and ideas on issues regarding parks, recreation, and entertainment in Jordan.

I’m interested in your ideas for parks and recreation. Expensive ideas, or cheap. Frivolous ideas, or serious. New ideas, or re-warmed ones that might merit reconsideration. I need your help in order to do a good job on the PRC.

E-mail works best for me. You can reach me here:

Or you can find me at most basketball games (boys’ and girls’). I walk around downtown almost every day, so you can catch me there. Soon I’ll be turning up at baseball and softball games. Whenever, and however you do it, share your ideas with me or anyone else on the PRC.

 

 

 

March 5, 2009: It didn’t take long for the Council to jump on the new Mayor.
Conflict of Interest?

This writer attended the Jordan City Council meeting on Monday, March 2nd. These meetings usually turn up some interesting piece of information or discussion point. Monday’s meeting was true to form.

Cy Wolf, chairman of the Sand Creek Township Board, sent Mayor Pete Ewals a letter detailing the results of a consultation Mr. Wolf solicited from two professional landscape architects on behalf of Sand Creek Township. For clarity, Mr. Wolf included a copy of the architects’ follow-up letter to Mr. Wolf and the Sand Creek Township Board.

Interesting things began to happen when it was mentioned that the professional consultants, hired by Sand Creek Township, are members of an organization in which Mayor Ewals also holds membership.

A question arose about whether there was a conflict of interest because of the Mayor’s and consultants’ memberships in the same organization.

Another question arose over why the Chairman of the Sand Creek Township Board sent his letter to the Mayor of Jordan, rather than to Jordan Staff.

And a question arose about whether discussion with Sand Creek Township regarding the Jordan 2030 Comp Plan was relevant, since the Plan has been adopted by the Council.

Regarding the first question, why was it never a conflict of interest when the previous Mayor met with the Commercial Club? It wasn’t wrong because being active in the community is what we expect our leaders to do. And we don’t control how our leaders choose to be active in the community. Unless they do something illegal, of course.

Regarding the second question, the previous mayor frequently met with the leaders of other towns to exchange ideas and pleasantries. This writer seems to recall that he was even chosen to lead an association of mayors. One would expect communications to happen at a comparable level. One would not expect, or welcome, a leader to try to exert influence on the staff of another city.

And regarding the final question, it has been said repeatedly that the 2030 Comp Plan is “just a plan.” We have been told that it’s only a guide, that things in the plan may, or may not actually happen. One councilmember mentioned that it might take 100 years to fulfill the plan. If the plan is so flexible, why is it a cause for concern when our neighbors, who are likely to be profoundly affected by the plan, choose to comment on it?

Is it a conflict of interest for a Councilmember to meet for breakfast with a group of his retired colleagues? Is it a conflict of interest for this writer to talk to someone from outside of Jordan, who thinks the Park and Recreation Committee should consider a youth baseball tournament? Is it a conflict of interest for a half-dozen or so staff members to attend a service organization meeting? Is this really a can of worms we want to open?

 

 

March 13, 2009
Lebensraum

Lebensraum = habitat = what the Germans did to their neighbors in Poland

Высвобождение = Liberation = What the Soviet Union did to Lithuania and Bulgaria after they drove out the Germans

Settling = displacing whoever is there now = what white people did to native populations all across America

Orderly Annexation = expanding a city for the greater good = what cities do to their neighbors, sometimes by threats of litigation

Is it any different for a city such as Jordan to try to annex a neighboring township (or even just one person’s farm) than it was for the U.S. Army to drive Native Americans off their home ranges? We will grant that there is a difference in scale, and in application of force. But the intent is the same. Does that sound harsh? Is it an oversimplification? Would YOU want Jordan to come and tell you that you were targeted for “orderly annexation”, and your home or business was going to be bought out “at fair market value?”

Call it what you want. In this writer’s opinion Jordan (and other cities as well) should take a hard look at what “orderly annexation” really is.

A land grab.

 

March 17, 2009
Talking to Tanya Velishek

Council Member Tanya Velishek is a new member of the Jordan City Council.  We asked for her thoughts about the election, the future of Jordan, and her plans.  Here’s what she had to say.

JUG: Ms. Councilperson, thanks for sharing your time with us.  Do you have any thoughts about the election, and what effect it had on the City Council?

TV: The election was an exciting time for Jordan and the entire United States. This year’s campaign and people’s time to make change within the government. I chose to run for city council to make a difference in the community, hold accountability, represent the people of Jordan, and to innovatively move Jordan to the future.

JUG: What do you see in the future for Jordan?

TV: Jordan is a small town community that has slowly grown, but needs to flourish. Jordan could be an Excelsior or Stillwater. I see Jordan growing with opportunity for business, supporting the small time feeling, resourceful people, and moving forward to serve the people of the community. I believe having the right people and right attitude that Jordan can accomplish all of the important aspects of a future community. The community is safe, offers educational opportunities, community support, and a variety of religious support.

JUG: Now that you’ve had a chance to settle in with the Council a little bit, were there any surprises?

TV: Yes and No. Having researched the issues and listened to the concerns of the community, I knew there would be some challenges to face with the city budget, projects, and decisions already made from previous years. However, I will contribute my planning skills of analyzing the short and long term views for the future of Jordan and the years to follow. I look at the community as a whole and how decisions will affect all of Jordan and the residents.

JUG: Is there anything you think the Council should be doing differently?

TV: I think once the city council and city staff has the strategic planning session, we can have a shared mental model of what is important for the community currently, and what we as a team can contribute to the future of Jordan within the next 5 years.

JUG: What about things you think the Council does well?

TV: The city council will work well as a team and make the decisions for the needs of the community once we finish with the budget concerns, finish the started projects, and focus on future projects to better our community.

JUG: May we ask why you decided to run for City Council?

TV: I answered this in the first sentence. I ran for city council to make a difference and being proactive in changing the city of Jordan. I see the potential and opportunities to make Jordan into a thriving self-efficient community.

JUG: And a free-form question is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

TV: Jordan has the small town charm that the community needs to cherish. We have resourceful residents and community support through city, religious, and civic groups. The Jordan community can come together as a whole and work together to bring our community to the next level. “I am one determined person that can make a difference, but I want to be apart of a team of determined people to change the course of history within our community.”

April 15,2009 A note from a disgruntled JUG reader

Here a few of my thoughts on the school which go back a few years.

When the huge school levy was passed a few years ago the proponents of it wouldn’t even listen to suggestions that some of this should go to benefit others in the community (besides children 6-18).  examples would be an indoor walking track & exercise areas, library, senior citizen facilities, etc. When I talked to the board chairman he was very rude & cynical that anyone would even dare suggest that others in the community should benefit from an educational facility paid for by home & business owners.  Why is our idea of education only for children?

I agree that education for youngsters is important, however, 95% of these kids leave once they graduate & few ever return except for holidays & visits to grandma & grandpa.  What about the many working adults (sans children) and senior citizens that have NO facilities here yet are forced to pay for schools.  If you pay taxes you should receive a benefit.

The problem that the school finds itself in is of their own making.  Plus they have alienated a large portion of the population by pushing a project that was too ambitious and only benefits a small minority of the population while making everyone pay.  I’ve voted against it every time it’s come up & will continue to do so.

April 22, 2009: Ms. Wallach worked hard to make her business successful in Jordan. When she responded to my request for an on-line interview she provided links to a couple of web sites she’d produced to promote the city. Alas, local response to a newcomer was not as warm as it might have been.
Talking to Mara Wallach

We’re talking to Mara Wallach, who operates 225 Water Street with Rob Mishica.  Mara and Rob went to great lengths to renovate 225 Water Street.  They continue to work hard to promote the business, and Jordan.  Even Buddy, the rescued cat works hard, guarding the pillow in the display window.

JUG: Mara, you and Rob probably had a lot of options about where to set up shop.  Why did you choose Jordan?

MW: Our daytrip searching for a new spot to create brought us here, from St. Paul. Somehow we ended up at exit 21. Somehow we were standing in front of 225 before getting back into the car to leave and asked to see the inside, even though the owner said the building was not available. Somehow we ended up renting the building for 9 months when we told the owner we really needed a place to purchase and somehow the building owner sold it to us. It’s all a mystery. Maybe the universe had something to do with it 🙂

JUG: You’ve been big help to Jordan UnderGround, and to other businesses and individuals here in town.  Is there anybody in town who helped you get started? .

MW: Sadly…no. However, Terri Knox from the Nicolin Mansion B&B has been an inspiration to me personally.

JUG:  Is there a story behind tiling the cracks in the sidewalk?  Are you willing to share it?

MW: The first test was picking a few places to see if the pieces would stick and last the winter. The reason was to create an attraction. Something that makes people smile and tell their neighbor. It’s sort of like creating an urban myth.

JUG:  We’re all aware of the empty buildings in downtown Jordan.  What do you think needs to happen for businesses to prosper in town?

MW: Some building owners should sell the buildings instead of trying to continue to rent them. For a new or old business to prosper in this town we need collaboration, communication and the loss of apathy.

JUG: This is an optional question.  Has the local newspaper been of any use to you as a business person?

MW: I wish it was

JUG: And another optional question.  Are there any organizations in town that helped you get going, and that other new business owners should be aware of?

MW: I wish there were.

JUG:  And the free-form question – is there anything you’d like to share with JUG readers?

MW: Creating an attraction or destination is not rocket science. As corporate event producers we use a creative but simple formula to attract and entertain an audience…and make them remember. Jordan has the framework in place to create an amazing destination, it’s just the disjointed (private) way it’s trying to be accomplished that keeps it from happening.

May 5, 2009 Just a little 400 thou mistake.
Oops!?

City Council meetings can be very informative. Even the deadly dull parts of the meetings will sometimes produce little nuggets of information that pique this writer’s interest. Often these little nuggets don’t make it into the minutes of the meetings, so if you’re not there, you might not pick up on them.

One such little nugget surfaced at last night’s (5/5/09) meeting.

A nice fellow from the accounting firm that conducts audits on the City’s books gave a presentation on the results of the audit for the last fiscal year. He had a big presentation, nicely bound, and with lots of pie charts. There was a lot of information given, and it was obvious that the audit was thorough and professional.

The nugget was a statement made by the auditor that a sharp change in some of last year’s numbers could be accounted for by the error of over $400,000 made in the previous year (fiscal 2006/07).

Wow. This writer was surprised, to say the least. That’s not the kind of money you find under the sofa cushion, with the TV remote and last year’s popcorn. This writer, being hearing-impaired, asked another member of the audience to confirm what had just been said. The confirmation came, along with the information that the error had persisted all year long. Amazingly enough, no one commented on it at the meeting.

As mentioned earlier, this writer is hearing impaired, and so doesn’t have all the details. It just seems odd that the Council that talked for 10 minutes about whether to spend $1,000 on flowers for the downtown flower pots, would not at least try to clarify a mistake that big.

On the up side, when one Council Member asked if there were any alarms going off, the accountant said no.   So maybe that nugget was just an oops – but golly, it was a big one.

 

May 6, 2009 Response from a disgruntled JUG reader.

What can be done to improve downtown?  For starters put some flowers in the pots!  Have we no pride? Do we want to see crowds of people witness how dull Jordan will be this summer?  They have looked absolutely horrific for several months now with dead Christmas decorations in them.  So if there was a $400,000 goof up what why can’t we plant some flowers?  Why is this soooo hard to get?
May 19, 2009
It’s The Budget, Silly!

As a rule, Jordan UnderGround tries to focus on local issues, but this week a little concentration on events in St. Paul seems to be in order.

Why is it that every year our State Representatives and State Senators can’t seem to catch on that the state budget is the most important thing they’ll deal with during a session, so it should be dealt with FIRST? Why is it that EVERY YEAR these people end up waiting until the last minute – or later to deal with their most important job? Is it because they like to collect the extra per-diem for an extended session? Is it because they’re witlings who can’t learn from past experience? Or is it because they choose to ignore their constituency, and just go their merry way, frittering away the session on dog parks, critical habitat license plate designs, and the Attorney General’s office door?

This writer thinks that a major component in why things aren’t getting done in a timely fashion is the outdated idea that we need a bicameral legislature. Not only do the State Reps have to come up with something they can all agree on, but they also have to come up with something they can sell to the State Senators. And vice-versa.

A bicameral legislature may have served some useful purpose in the past. All it does now is double the cost, double the trouble, and double the time. It’s nuts, and it’s time for our leaders to do something about it. What business would have two boards of directors? How long can we afford to keep paying for two sets of government, when our bridges are falling down, and our taxes are going up?

This writer wonders when our legislators will come to the realization that downsizing is needed. And whether any will have the guts to suggest it.

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2009
This Town’s Going to Pots

The editor is late this week, and apologizes for his tardiness. There’s a reason, though – and it’s not just procrastination.

Long story short, the City is asking the merchants in Downtown Jordan to choose to plant and tend the planters (pots, if you will) on the street, or the City will remove them.

The backstory:
In response to budget cuts, City staff decided to not plant anything in the planters along Broadway and elsewhere in town. Staff felt they didn’t have the manpower to tend the pots, so it would be irresponsible to put anything in them.

The Parks and Recreation Committee offered to allocate money for purchasing plants, but staff felt that would be a misapplication of Parks funds, and that unless there was someone to water the plants, they’d just die anyway. The Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman asked if he could use the cart to water the plants. Other members of the PRC were also willing to volunteer time to water. Staff said that there were liability and insurance issues that prevented the City from permitting non-employees from using City equipment. So the PRC made a motion to recommend that the City Council restore or reallocate $1500.00 to be used to buy plants. The City Council said no.

Last night two members of the Parks and Recreation Committee, who are also members of the Commercial Club, approached the Commercial Club about providing funding to purchase flowers and perhaps help plant them. Nearby business owners would then be asked to water the plants as needed. The Commercial Club said no. The prevailing opinion was that local business people would be happy to plant and tend the pots in front of their businesses if someone (the City) would only ask. In fact, a couple of CC members said they would adopt a pot.

The Jordan Brewers Baseball Club adopted the four planters in the Mini-Met. St. John the Baptist Church likely will adopt some of the pots on their corner if the city decides to return them when construction is done.

The rest is up to you.

Anyone who wants to plant and tend a planter can. And since beggars can’t be choosers, This editor thinks it unlikely the City will care too much what is planted, as long as it’s not weeds or marijuana. Orphan pots will be removed if no one steps forward to adopt them.

Incidentally, the City will also not be planting flowerbeds in parks this year. It looks like a drab year for Jordan.

 

 

 

June 25, 2009
Rule or Represent?

This writer has had a lot of conversations and digital exchanges with a variety of politicians, at a variety of government levels. It’s dismaying how many of them seem to think that they were elected to rule, rather than to represent.

It seems many elected officials think that winning an election means that their constituents agree with them on every issue, and should be pleased to let the elected officials do whatever they (the electeds) think is right. This writer also sometimes feels that elected officials believe they know better what’s good for their constituents than the people themselves. One often hears the statement that “you don’t understand all the details, or appreciate all the hard work we put into making this piece of legislation.”

In particular, the rampant unanimity that seems to permeate the City Council smacks of dealmaking and behind-the-scenes maneuvering. That unanimity also means someone isn’t being represented. Only the Mayor seems to be willing to show the grit to vote against things he feels a significant segment of the population don’t want.

Perhaps someone can tell us who voted against:
The purchase of a ladder truck for the Fire Department
The fire hall expansion
The new water treatment facility
And the Zamboni?

So, what did you vote for – a ruler or a representative?

 

July 1,2009
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

The following excerpt is taken from the Jordan Independent web site:

“Ron lost the election because of a large amount of misinformation about the intersection project. It’s not about the people have spoken, the people reacted to bad information being given to them. What Ron has done for this city can not be matched, and it frustrates me when people pretend that him losing the way he did was anything more than fear mongering by a few, including our current mayor.”

jrgoebel

Oh, really?
So, aside from the intersection project, the voters didn’t consider anything?

Like maybe:

The ladder truck that can reach the top of a five story building (which Jordan doesn’t have) . . .

The fire hall addition (needed to house the ladder truck that can reach the top of a five story building Jordan doesn’t have) . . .

The water treatment facility (needed to accommodate people who don’t live here yet) . . .

The high water rates . . .

The $1,600.00 building permit cost that drives builders to Shakopee or Belle Plaine . . .

The park drive repaving project that seemed to fall from the sky . . .

Funding for the park drive project, some of which came from the Parks and Recreation budget (much to the dismay of at least some Park Board members) . . .

The mess that Holzer Park degenerated into . . .

The fleet of four-wheel-drive trucks the City uses . . .

The four Deputy Sheriffs at the “information only” meeting at the golf course?

Or maybe it was just the Zamboni?

There’s more, but the reader should be able to draw some conclusions about things that happened on Mayor Jabs watch. Mayor Jabs is a marketing professional. As such, he should have been able to develop a marketing communication strategy to counter fear mongering by an un-named few. By his own admission during the election, he had not done a good job of communication, and he asked for another chance to improve. If, after 20 years as mayor, he hadn’t mastered communication, why would his constituents think he would get better during another term? Was Mayor Jabs a bad mayor? Probably not. But he was out of touch with voters. Maybe that’s what cost him the election.

Before the last election, this writer, Mayor Ewals, and another (successful) candidate for City Council gathered at this writer’s home. Among the things that we discussed was the need to focus on all issues, and not be “single issue” candidates. We all agreed.

So, it is about “the people have spoken” – quite clearly, in fact. Maybe it’s time for the City Council to listen.

 

July 20, 2009
A Modest Proposal

Now that the Broadway/Second Street rebuilding is nearing completion, it seems likely that the City, in its’ quest for things to do, will start pushing to reconfigure the intersection at Second and Creek Lane. The City seems to be entertaining only three options for the intersection: either a roundabout, traffic signals, or do nothing. This writer wishes to offer a fourth option – temporary four-way stop signs.

The thinking is simple, really. The City has already rented stop signs, and placed them at the intersection. Why not just extend the rental contract for one year, as a test to determine if four-way stop signs will control traffic adequately? This would buy some time for the City to get out of current economic doldrums before inflicting another hit of construction on merchants. It would also serve to slow down traffic on Second, where people just passing through routinely drive in excess of the posted 30 MPH speed limit.

Why a Four Way Stop?
It’s simple, cheap, and easy to understand. Traffic signals are complex and expensive to install and maintain. Roundabouts are confusing, require a lot of space to be safe for trucks, and make no allowance for pedestrians.

Enforcement is simple. Stop means stop. A yellow light means go faster. And right of way in a round about belongs to the most aggressive driver. (That’s not the way it’s planned, but that’s how it IS.)

Slowing traffic even a little will make it easier and safer to cross Second at Downtown intersections.

Why Not a Four Way Stop?
MnDOT says so. Who cares? MnDOT doesn’t own Jordan. We should have some say in how traffic is pushed through out town. MnDOT seems to have no problem with a four way stop sign on Highway 21/13/Main Street in New Prague.

It will slow down the flow of traffic. Well, yeah. That’s the whole point.

Round abouts are a proven traffic control method. So are stop signs, and they’re a heck of a lot cheaper.

And the Point Is . . .
We’re not talking about elegant engineering solutions. Making traffic whiz through Jordan isn’t the goal. The point is to make Jordan safer in an economically sensible manner.

Oh, and how about four way stop signs at Water Street and Broadway too? Wouldn’t it be nice to walk across the street there, and safely access the businesses on the east side of Broadway?

 

July 24, 2009
Burish Interview/Letter

. . . Something you may want to post regarding the middle school is this. The consultant said the state does not want districts investing more than 60% of the cost of new into remodeling. new costs are around 200 per sq ft and remodeling is around 125 to 165 per sq ft. At 125 we would be able to do 96% of 60% or 57.6% of the total building at 165 we would only be able to do 43.6% of the total building. Just so you know we aren’t looking at a new school just how to fix what we have.

I have tried to remain quiet while people accuse the board of peddling snake oil and misleading the public. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a board we have been reducing the budget for four years. We have been doing this to try to stay ahead of the revenue reductions. We have made reductions before any state, county or city reductions. I realize we are the one group that can be told no, so often times we are told no as a sort of message to government.

So I will make a few points

We can’t mislead the public, because the public has the final say. We represent the people and our job is to try to inform them about what we are doing and why. No board member has ever refused to answer a question when asked.

More money does not mean a better education, but the lack of money will limit what a district is able to do and offer. If you have concerns about educational funding I suggest you contact your local state representatives and ask them why we don’t fund each district the same. If fact some districts receive almost twice as much state aid per pupil as Jordan. Ask them why we have dozens of unfunded or under-funded mandates from the state and federal government, many of which have nothing to do with education or student achievement. Two of our representatives met with us and told us they would try to reduce the unfunded mandates. The amount they reduced this by was ZERO. If you talk to legislators they can easily blame the other party. Unfortunately difficult times require people to abandon political rhetoric and work TOGETHER on a solution.

We have invited people in to look at our schools and see what we are working on. One of our toughest critics had the courage to come and talk to us face to face and take a tour of the buildings. I think that gathering information is the most important part of the referendum. If you get all your information from fliers or newspapers you are not getting everything. The Board always hears that people didn’t have all the facts. It is not possible be spoon fed every tidbit of information. People have to actively seek information, they have to be willing to attend open houses about the referendum, they have to have the courage to ask tough questions, and then they have to be willing to listen. We may not be able to answer every question on the spot, and we may find things that we didn’t think about.

We have been doing some fact gathering, as a board and with the help of consultants. We have implemented a technology improvement plan to move toward staying up to date. We were able to improve the district web site based on recommendations of public, staff and committee recommendations. We are looking at building issues to try to see where we need to allocate limited resources. We need to know how to get the most bang for every dollar. We used consultants to evaluate the Elementary School air handlers. Original estimates were about $1.5 million to replace all 7. By using some recommendations of a consultant, some research by the superintendent, and the help of a local contractor we were able to do 3 for about $280,000.00. We have to continue to work on the remaining air handlers on the Elementary School. We also have to look at ways to update the Middle School, should we do the roof, windows, walk in coolers, boilers, or lights. Consultants know the practical order and where we may be able to find grant or rebate money. We discussed possible geo-thermal over a year ago, but we need to know what should be addressed first, and how we can best use our financial resources. When we have that information we will be able to move toward a comprehensive building maintenance plan that includes all three buildings.

We are not trying to scare people. We are making reductions that have greatly increased class sizes and have limited what our students can take for classes. Some students have left and others may leave because our neighboring districts (Shakopee, Belle Plaine, Chaska, and Prior Lake) are perceived as offering more. Talk to a parent of last year’s fifth grade about class size increase. My concern is, we are reaching a tipping point. Even a quality house (the school) built on a solid foundation (The Jordan Community) requires an investment to maintain the quality

Even though we have been dealing with reductions for a few years we still have a good district. We also believe we can always improve the district. Our administrators, teachers and staff have remained positive and focused on providing a good environment for the students. This attitude is a credit to all the employees of the district and the taxpayers. We expect people to do their best and they are working hard to do this.

I will not join in the name-calling or drama that can accompany letters to the editor. I would ask that people try to actively seek the facts and become involved in helping the district work through this financial situation. As a community we can elevate ourselves above fear and misinformation. If you have any questions please contact your board members.

Respectfully
Daniel M. Buresh
District 717 Chair

 

August 5, 2009
How Many Engineers Does it Take to Screw Up a Light?

At the City Council meeting on Monday, July 20th, the Council got an update from the City Engineer on the status of the TH 282 (Second Street) project.

It’s mostly done, of course, and well ahead of schedule. But a question was raised about why the streetlights are so high that they’re lost among the trees? The City Engineer mentioned that state highway lighting standards dictate that street lights be at least 25 feet above the pavement. Those same standards dictate the amount of light to be given off, and the spread, or fall area of the light. The City and eXcel Energy decided to use a design of light that would be 28 feet above the pavement. Through some strange quirk, the lights ended up being a tad over 30 feet up, and well into the trees.

Now we have to sort out who’s responsible (meaning where the money will come from), and what can be done. Apparently one of the solutions considered was to saw off the poles. Not surprisingly, this won’t work because the poles are tapered, and have mounting reinforcements built in. Another possibility is sawing off the offending branches – not a politically palatable option, but one that appears likely to happen.

Looks like it will take a while for the engineers to work this one out.

Meanwhile, the road was all striped, and ready to open on the 22nd or 23rd. However, the streetlights hadn’t been “powered up” (turned on?). It was reported that City Staff was scrambling to get eXcel to power up the lights – which had been in place for about two weeks at that time. One would think that turning on the lights would be done immediately after they are installed. Why wait until the electricians have left before checking their handiwork?

There seemed to be some question about the wisdom of opening the road without having streetlights functioning – because “it’s really dark”. Well duh.

So now the streetlights are on. There are two at every intersection along Second – and none in the middle of any of the blocks. So the intersections are nicely lighted, but the rest of the street is dark. Hmmmm. The intersection at Second and Broadway has four new streetlights. As with New York, the lights are bright on Broadway.

I know I didn’t catch all of what was said, but it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to notice that the lights are too high, and are oddly spaced. Oh well, not to worry. The engineers will surely step in and save the day, right?

August 12, 2009: Every time I reread this one, I like it more.
A State of Mind

This writer knows it’s a dream, but . . . imagine if Jordan seceded from the state of Minnesota.

MnDOT wouldn’t be able to tell us what to do.

The state of Jordan could have a unicameral legislature, instead of the wasteful bicameral legislature Minnesota has.

We could have our own auto license plate – one single design, to eliminate all the screwing around associated with the various designs (some of which are unreadable) that Minnesota has.

There would be no foofuraw about per diem, since all legislators would live in driving distance of the capitol. And those legislators could deal with the tough issues first. The budget would be ironed out BEFORE the legislators started worrying about which picture to put on the duck stamp.

The Metropolitan Council wouldn’t be able to tell us what to do.

The state of Jordan would be completely responsible for funding public education. There wouldn’t be any wiggle room to create unfunded education programs. And if the schools stunk, we’d know exactly who was to blame – us.

Imagine being able to decide who our senators would be, without having to go through months of court proceedings to settle the election.

There are downsides of course.

We’d have to build and maintain our own bridges, rather than have MnDOT do it for us.

Pekarna’s would probably have to get some kind of interstate commerce permit if they wanted to sell their wieners in Belle Plaine.

Are there are any local characters ala Jesse Ventura, who could be Governor? Maybe it would take a few years of statehood to develop our own brand of governator. In the meantime, we might have to create a mythical governor who has an affair with a girlfriend in Brazil – or Wisconsin. We’d need something like that to get our name out to the rest of the country.

And we’d have to find a place to have the State Fair, since the Scott County Fairgrounds would be in another state. Perhaps Jackie Holzer Park would work.

Now careful readers will note that this writer is NOT suggesting seceding from the Union, as some Texans and Alaskans have suggested for their states. America is still the greatest nation on earth. But gee, wouldn’t it be neat to have our own presidential primary at Clancy’s?

 

 

 

August 19, 2009
Here We Go Again

The following is an extract from a work session item presented to the City Council after the August 17, 2009 meeting. It was entitled, Workshop Session, Item B, Review Strategic Action Plans (editor’s note: Yes, it’s Action Plans – sounds more important than just a single, integrated plan.)

STRATEGIC GOALS
1-3 YEAR

HIGHEST PRIORITY

GOAL #5

TO NEGOTIATE THE ORDERLY ANNEXATION OF LAND TO ACCOMMODATE THE CITY’S PROJECTED GROWTH

Over the next three years, orderly annexation is a higher priority than maintaining existing parks – which is not mentioned anywhere in any part of the plan. It’s more important than filling the hundreds of empty home sites that exist now.

By this writer’s estimate, a large part of what was presented didn’t amount to “goals” at all. They are simply smoke and mirrors to mask what some of City Staff views as its’ true reason for being – expansion regardless of the cost to the town and taxpayers.

The Difference Between Annexation and Growth
Annexation means extending the City Limits. In most cities, extending the City Limits means neglecting the core community. If you live in Bridle Creek, how will you feel when the City neglects your neighborhood in favor of developing parks and trails in the NEW new neighborhoods? If you live in Valley Green, will you feel good about watching Jackie Holzer Park sink back into the weeds? (It’s happening now. Go look along the fences by the ball fields.)

Growth means making Jordan stronger. When existing home sites are filled, all the homes in the neighborhood are worth more. Which would you rather have for a neighbor – and empty lot, or a home? And which part of the City do you think the marketing buffaloes will push first? The 500 lots they can’t sell, or the 100 NEW lots the city just annexed?

In this writer’s estimation, annexation will simply lead to more empty lots, and more area for police and fire departments to cover. Growth within our current boundaries will enhance our home values. For the City to even consider annexation given the current economy, and all the unfilled dreams within the current City Limits, is simply silly. Ten years from now, when Bridle Creek is a fully developed, vibrant neighborhood, and not half gravel pit, we can think about extending the City Limits.

What If Developers Go Ahead and Develop Land Outside of Jordan?
Swell. Who’s going to annex that land before Jordan does? Prior Lake? Shakopee? New Prague? Belle Plaine? Did we miss anybody? Our nearest neighbor city is seven miles away.   And they are all experiencing the same slowdown in home building that we see in Jordan. So developers who want to buy and build up cornfields will have to sell their customers on the advantages of private wells and septic systems.

But the Metropolitan Council Says . . .
The Metropolitan Council couldn’t find its’ butt with both hands and a road map. Do you think those unelected people care about the cities and hamlets outside of the Twin Cities and adjacent suburbs?   Wasn’t it the Metropolitan Council that built a regional water treatment plant, and then told Shako to take over operations?

What is the Metropolitan Council doing to relieve the blight in Minneapolis? Why, they’re saying let’s disperse the problem among the ‘burbs.

The City Council is reviewing Staff’s goals now. NOW is the time for you to tell them what you think. Go to City Hall and get a copy of the Work Shop Session Agenda and attachments for Monday, August 17, 2009. Look at the proposed budget. Look at the proposed Strategic Action Plans. Then make yourself heard.

Your opinion doesn’t count if you don’t express it.

 

August 24, 2009
Teachable Moments

7:10 AM, Tuesday. A parent is on the way to day care with a child who will not see the parent again for eight or more hours. Does the parent spend those first 15 or so minutes alone with the child? Or on the cell phone? And what is the child taught about his or her value in the parent’s life.

8:33 AM, Sunday. A parent in church with his/her children checks the cell phone to decide if an incoming call is important enough to take. What is the message to the children regarding the importance of being in church with one’s family?

6:20 PM, Friday. A parent is at a fast food restaurant with three children. The parent is talking on a cell phone. The children aren’t getting any guidance about how to behave in a public eating establishment, so they are doing what children do in those circumstances – throwing things, picking their noses, running to get catsup, and generally trying to get the parent’s attention.

These are three examples of teachable moments. Times when a parent could have the sole, undivided attention of his or her children. Times when the children could have the sole, undivided attention of their parent.

There was a time when the value of a child was measured by the child’s ability to work hard enough to carry his or her own weight in the family. Parents were expected to nurture their children, to assure that they could, indeed, carry their weight.

These days, it seems a lot of parents don’t expect children to carry their weight. They just want them to not get in the way.

“Put on your iPod, Dustin. Mommy’s talking to someone on the phone right now, and doesn’t have time to talk to you about what’s going on in school this week.”

“Brianna, Dad’s on the phone. Whatever it was you saw swooping down on a mouse isn’t as important as this call.”

When you take your kids to Grand Marais, do they spend the whole trip watching Hannah Montana on the vid screen in the back? Do they ever bother to look at the ore boats on Lake Superior? Do you point out the differences between those ore boats and the ocean going container ships?

It’s hard being a parent. And you don’t get a whole lot of immediate gratification for the effort you put in. But ask yourself, in those moments when you are alone with your children, do you want your cell phone to be a part of your family. In those teachable moments, what message do you want to teach? That your children are less important to you than any schmoe who can dial your number? If that’s the message you teach them, don’t be surprised when they no longer listen to you because they’re listening to their friends on the phone.

 

September 29, 2009
The editor has been kind of busy moving for he past couple of weeks. Hence the delay in placing new material here. The JUG is in a new basement now, and hopefully, things will start to fall into place again.

On the Subject of Involvement

Eleven candidates are running for four open seats on the School Board. There are many good choices among the names in the hat, and this writer will not presume to tell you who to vote for. Hopefully, this same level of involvement will continue after the election. Even candidates who don’t win can still show up at the School Board meetings. By doing so, they can have an impact on how the School District functions.

In the meantime, you, the voter, should inform yourself about the various candidates.

Two key questions to ask are:
How many School Board meetings has a candidate attended?
What has a candidate done to make his or her positions on school issues known?

Why does meeting attendance matter? Because it’s the best way to be informed about the work facing the School Board. It’s also the best forum for expressing ones’ opinions.

Which leads to the second question. Who among the candidates have made themselves visible? Who among the candidates have made their positions known?

You can inform yourself, and make four sound choices for the School Board.

Or you can just pick the four names that sound nicest to you.

 

October 13, 2009
Penny Ante?

I went to the Homecoming Football game last Friday, and had a great time. Pretty much froze my feet, but the game was good, with lots of highlights (and a few lowlights), the pork chops were delicious as ever, and the hot chocolate was hot.

School sports events also provide an excellent place for meeting and talking to friends. Friday night, I was talking to one of those friends. I like the guy, but I don’t necessarily always agree with him – which is the essence of community, in my opinion. Anyway, he made an interesting observation, which bears repeating here. We were discussing the levy referendum, which he opposes because he thinks it’s not needed. We got sidetracked into a discussion of the difference between opposing something because it’s unnecessary, versus opposing something because one is too tight to pay for it. He pointed to several groups of people sitting outside the fence, watching the game. One group was in their backyard with a nice fire going. We agreed that they’re justified in watching the game from their own property. A couple of other groups were sitting in folding chairs they’d placed on school property, outside the gate.

My friend asked, “Do you think they bought tickets?” And, “Do you think they’re going to walk over to the concessions stand for a pork chop?” And, “What does that do to the value of the tickets we purchased?” And, “Does anyone ever go over there and ask them to buy tickets or leave school property?” He estimated that the knotholers represented about $500.00 a year in lost support for school athletics.

So what’s the point?
One can oppose the coming school levy because you think it’s unnecessary. So far, no one has been able to convince me that’s true.

One can oppose the levy because the tax burden is simply too much for one’s income. I can respect that, and sympathize with it.

Or, one can oppose the levy because one is simply unwilling to spend the money.

I think the levies are necessary. I don’t like the increase in my tax burden, but I’m not too penny ante to pay for something I think the community needs.

How about you?

 

November 3, 2009 This post came on the heels of a Council meeting which, in my opinion, revealed the true colors of many Council Members in regard to their feelings about constituents.
You Had To Be There . . .

Last night the Jordan City Council voted to eliminate audience comments on agenda items unless the Council agrees to permit them. Confused? Me too.

In essence the Council is saying they will choose who, if anyone, can comment on agenda items. John Q. Citizen will still be allowed to comment during the public comment portion of the meeting. And apparently, a second public comment portion will be added at the end of the meeting – after all the issues have been decided. Sort of letting us kick a dead horse, I guess. But if you want to say something about an item on the agenda, you’ll have to do it during the public comment period(s), or hope that you have enough friends in high places so that the Council will agree to listen to you.

I was amazed at how easily the Council Members convinced themselves that they could choose to ignore the civil rights of their constituents.

Council Member Shaw said that the Council meetings were not a social club, where just anybody could speak. He also said that anybody who wanted to have a voice in Council decisions should run for a seat on the Council, as he has done seven times. Great. If you’ve got something to say, just hold on for a couple of years, and maybe you’ll get a chance to say it.

Council Member Goebel said that for the Mayor to say that the Council was not willing to listen to constituents “couldn’t be farther from the truth.” That’s a polite way of calling someone a liar.

Council Member Hanson said that at the last meeting, the Council had invited important guests from Scott County to address the Council. Opening up the agenda items for public discussion could have caused delays in the meeting, which would have forced these guests to wait for their chance to speak. He said that would be very disrespectful, and was not something he would want to participate in. So, was he saying the Council should dis the citizens of Jordan, who take the time to come to the meetings in hopes of being part of democracy in action?

Council Member Velishek talked at length about how the Council and City Staff were a team, and how she wanted to cultivate teamwork. Not much mention of how the audience at the meeting fit into the team though.

Council Member Marnhoff didn’t say much at all.

Who, What, Where, and When?
Most of the members said that they hear from many people, via many methods of communication outside of the Council Meetings. Which is wonderful. But it begs the question, where would a Council Member prefer to hear from a (potentially irate) constituent? In the aisle at the supermarket? On the sidewalk? Or in the controlled environment of the Council Chambers?

Wouldn’t the members prefer to hear comments in a recorded public venue? Are they afraid that their responses will also be recorded, and they’ll have to make good on them? It’s easy to say something in a private conversation on the sidewalk, and then ignore the topic evermore. (I’ve had one-on-one conversations with Council Members about captioning and meeting accessibility, without every getting a shred of response.)

Democracy isn’t always neat or easy
Some of the council members said that allowing public discussion of every agenda item would lead to inefficient meetings that didn’t run smoothly. Ahh, so the audience’s civil rights don’t count compared to having an efficient meeting. That sounds like fascism to me. The previous mayor prided himself on his ability to run a tight meeting. By his own admission, he didn’t do a very good job of communication, and pledged to do better. He was voted out of office because a decisive majority of people in Jordan didn’t like the way he was running things. One of Mayor Ewals’ campaign promises was to make city government more open and accountable. The Council seems determined to maintain the status quo.

So where are we?
Various Council Members, at various times, have said that they want and value input from the people of Jordan.   And yet, they are doing their level best to stifle public input at the very venue created to promote it. What are they hiding?

Exactly what the heck does “open meeting” mean?

I could exclude public comment on this topic, but I won’t. Anyone who’s willing to give his or her name, and is willing to limit his or her response to about 150 words is welcome to respond here. No anonymous responses will be posted. No obscene language will be permitted. My house, my rules. But if you have something to say, and you have the guts to put your name on it, I won’t refuse to let you be heard.

 

November 25, 2009
An Ideal Jordan?

This is my take on what would be an ideal Jordan. Some people may agree. Others won’t. Either way, I’d love to have your input, and be allowed to share it with those who read JordanUnderGround.

No Vacant Lots
Jordan currently has over 500 empty home sites, and probably 20 empty commercial/industrial sites. In my ideal Jordan, there would be about 50 empty home sites, and perhaps five empty commercial/industrial sites. If you live in Bridle Creek, imagine looking around your area, and seeing a fully developed neighborhood, rather than piles of dirt. If you live in Wexford Square, visualize a finished development, with more homeowners to share the cost of your homeowner’s association. Imagine having 15 or so businesses in town, paying taxes and creating jobs.

Access on Broadway
A four-way stop sign at Broadway and Water would make life much easier for pedestrians who want to get to businesses on the east side of Broadway. It would be a lot easier for northbound drivers to turn onto Water Street, too. What’s more, a four-way stop would give drivers a chance to look at our historic downtown. Maybe some of them would see something they like, and stick around for a while.

Off-Street Parking
We all say we want it, but we’re not quite sure where it should be. And no one seems to be willing to walk a block from a parking lot to a business. So where do we put off-street parking? (I have ideas, but I want to hear yours, so I’ll hold off for a bit with mine.)

A Pocket Park on Broadway
Most small towns have some kind of park along their main street. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a small park (perhaps a Veterans’ Memorial Park) on Broadway? Doesn’t have to be big or deep. And maybe if we can find the right site, we can work in some off-street parking. This would also help to reduce the number of empty storefronts downtown, which leads us to . . .

Fewer Empty Storefronts
Some could house City offices. Some could benefit from a push by the City to find tenants. Some might need to be purchased by the City, and torn down to make off-street parking.

Frozen Borders
We keep straining our current tax base to pay for all the expansion we hope to see. Why not declare a five (or even ten) year moratorium on expanding the city limits?

Safe Pedestrian and Bike Access to Every Part of Town
This is a tough one. How can we make it safe for pedestrians and bike riders to cross 169? The traffic signal at 169 and 282/CR9 is laughably short for pedestrian crossing. A pedestrian overpass there would nicely complement a pedestrian underpass along Sand Creek.

Bike paths connecting all the neighborhoods to each other, and to downtown would also be part of my ideal Jordan. Wouldn’t it be nice to safely ride a bike from Bridle Creek or Brentwood to Lagoon Park? The state and county are working on bike paths to connect cities. Jordan should be ready to use those connections by having bike paths that would draw riders here.

Inclusion
In an ideal Jordan, no neighborhood is shortchanged. No neighbor is excluded.

And . . .?
There’s more, but my main point is, we should be thankful for, and take care of what we have. We don’t need to re-create Jordan. We just need to refine it.

Now tell me, what are your ideas for a perfect Jordan?

 

December 1, 2009 I might actually like the idea of having the Met Council be responsible for Jordan’s water. Maybe it would free up the City Administrator and Finance Manager to work on other things. And can’t you just see the Met Council having kittens when they find out the County is looking at polluting ground water?
Water, Water Everywhere . . .

An anonymous blogger on the Jordan Independent web site wrote: “it will be nice once we hook up to the metro system, but until that day, a proprietary municipal water system costs money.”

Hm-m-m-m-m-m, what exactly might connection to the Met Council’s water and sewer network give us?

Clean water in our homes (just like we have now)

Water drawn from local wells (just like we have now)

Some kind of a sewage treatment system (just like we have now)

How clean would the water be?
Someone else would decide that. Probably someone who doesn’t live in Jordan, and doesn’t drink the water.

Where would the Metropolitan Council draw water from?
Gee, the smart thing to do would be to use pre-existing wells that are adequate for Jordan’s needs for the next 10 years or so. But if the Met Council did decide to drill new wells, they would probably draw from . . . . . the Jordan Aquifer.

Where would the Metropolitan Council process sewage?
Well, I suppose a regional sewage treatment plant would make sense. Wait a minute! Didn’t the Met Council just unload a “regional” sewage treatment plant on Shakopee? As I recall, it had something to do with the Met Council thinking that maybe the regional plant wasn’t such a good idea after all, so they told Shako to take over.

Water mains, water towers, and sewers would still be the responsibility of the city.   Billing would still be the responsibility of the city.   About the only thing a Met Council water supply would actually provide is pipelines through the fields outside of town – for which we would be billed, I assume. By the way, any landowner who didn’t want the pipelines on his property would probably find himself staring at an imminent domain seizure.

If there’s a regional water crisis like an act of terrorism, and all city water supplies are interlinked, what’s to prevent the big cities from sucking the water out of the little ones? As we’ve seen with our electric distribution network, one big grid is much easier to take down than a bunch of independent, smaller systems.

What would we get for the additional layer of bureaucracy the Metropolitan Council would add?
My guess would be, nothing but more drain on our wallets. A so-called proprietary water system does cost money, but at least we get a little bit of control in exchange for our water bills. Sometimes sharing to satisfy common needs makes sense. Libraries are a prime example of smart sharing. So are things like county roads and parks. I’m willing to cede control of our mosquitoes, too. But turning over control of our water to a group of non-elected non-residents doesn’t strike me as too bright.

So, for my money, the idea of hooking up to a regional water or sewer system is all wet.

 

December 27, 2009
Playing With Trucks

A local company – a valued corporate citizen – is planning to open a gravel pit just outside the city limits. At a recent City Council workshop, Scott County staff advised that the company has received the preliminary blessings of Sand Creek Township, and Scott County. The company is asking the City of Jordan to permit trucks to haul gravel along Valley View Road to County Road 9, where the trucks would either turn east to access 169, or west to cross the river. Presumably, none would cross 169 to access 282. The company has said that they will go ahead with gravel pit operations regardless of whether the City permits trucks on Valley View Road. The implication is that they have other options which will work for them if the City says no.

When I first heard about this at a City Council meeting, my initial reaction was “what’s a few more trucks?” As the company’s presentation went on, and it became obvious that they were willing to go to considerable lengths to gain access to a Jordan city street, I began to wonder what exactly was at stake.. Up to that point, as nearly as I could tell, no one on the Council, staff, or in the audience had asked how many trucks we were talking about. So I asked. And the answer was 50 to 90 trucks per day, on the average. Not believing my ears, I asked for a confirmation – was that one/five or five/oh? The company spokesperson confirmed five/oh to nine/oh.

Oh.

When to when? 7:00 AM to roughly 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.

Oh boy.

But wait, there’s more. At certain peak periods, the pit will be operating ‘round the clock, meaning trucks will be coming and going 24/7.

Hm-m-m-m-m. Coming and going? Wouldn’t that mean 100 to 180 trucks per day? Not just on snow emergency days, or transformer delivery days either.

Okay, what part of the load fee will be paid to Jordan? None. Nothing.

What will happen to home values along Valley View and the Brentwood area? They’ll drop. Some will probably drop a lot. What does that do to the City’s tax base? Well, gee, that cuts it, of course! Which means everyone else will have to pay more to absorb the lost revenue.

And it’s not just for a few years, either. The company spokesperson said that they estimate it will take 25 years to deplete the gravel in the new pit. I would guess Valley View will have to be repaved twice, maybe three times to repair the damage those trucks will do.

But wait, there’s more! What’s to stop the gravel haulers from crossing 169 to access 282 and 21 to haul gravel towards Prior Lake and New Prague? (Keep in mind, we’re discussing 2nd Street and Broadway.) Apparently, only the good intentions of the pit operator.

There’s so much wrong with this business, that it hardly bears considering. Noise. Fumes. Declining property values. Wear and tear on city streets. Safety. Cost. And just the general abuse of a neighborhood.

And what is our City Council doing? Waiting. Waiting to see what the township and county decide to do. What’s wrong with getting ahead of the curve? Why not tell Sand Creek Township, and Scott County that they can do what they want, but we won’t impose the burden of all those trucks on the people of Jordan? Why not tell the company that we hope there gravel pit is a great success, but running their trucks through our town would be an unreasonable burden on not just the people along Valley View, but the entire town? Initial response from the City Council and staff was mixed, so there’s hope that the abuse of our homes and streets can be avoided.

It’s time for our City Council and staff to protect Jordan.

The company in question is a good corporate citizen of Jordan. I hope they will continue to be a good citizen and neighbor for years to come. But in this instance, I don’t think their best interests coincide with those of the people living near and along Valley View Drive. Hopefully, the company will be able to work out a good alternate route with the County, and everyone will be satisfied. But that won’t happen if Jordan doesn’t take the lead.