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Trustees consider improvements to Thompson Memorial Field

Wednesday night, Feb. 6, was filled with plenty of discussion but not much decision making by Star Prairie Village Board trustees. Village Maintenance Operator Nate Licht presented two options to resolve Barron Avenue area flooding due to water from an artesian spring backing up. The immediate issue of flooding the street has been addressed temporarily by using a pipe to divert water into a storm drain in the vicinity of Main Street Pizza. Licht speculated the problem is a result of either a break or blockage somewhere in the existing piping feeding from the spring under Main Street into a creek in River Island Park. The first option Licht outlined would replace the damaged or blocked pipe with new piping and at the same time remove several angles in the pipe route leading to the creek. "We'd need to get a hold of Dan Baillargeon and locate where that pipe comes through at River Island. Dig that up and basically connect a new pipe onto the end of that gas line there, because that's what they buried the gas line, and run that straight into the creek instead of having it bend 90 degrees to the right then back to the left into that creek," said Licht. The second option would be to make the temporary solution permanent by burying the pipe feeding the water from the spring to the storm drain. That may require an easement to be established and the water would run straight from the storm drain into the Apple River. Trustees asked Licht to put together price estimates for each of the options by the next board meeting so that a solution and appropriate funding can be in place to resolve the issue this spring. Clerk Amanda Engesether presented the 2018 Building and Zoning Annual Report. The village issued a total of 16 permits in 2018 valued at $135,099. No permits for new homes were issued. Representatives from the New Richmond Baseball Club (NRBC) presented trustees with a list of improvements and additional equipment being proposed to improve player safety, make Wayne Thompson Memorial Field more marketable and enhance the overall game experience. "Some of the items listed relate directly to safety concerns for the kids. The field is not level. It's hard as a rock. I understand a light fell last year, during play. The rest of the items relate to, in my opinion, some very overdue upgrades. Our ballpark is one of the things Star Prairie's hung its hat on for many, many years," said Trustee Dustin Howe. The list totaled $39,300 although it was acknowledged that a number of items would likely cost less than listed once the details can be worked out. "I think it was the opinion of the Park Committee that we are in support of the improvements. It's more a matter of the timeline and cost that have to be considered," said Howe. Depending on how the village and the NRBC agree to pay for the improvements, the NRBC would most likely have to raise at least a portion of its commitment making a 2019 spring installation unlikely. In order to justify such an investment, trustees also needed to know from the NRBC how committed it was to promoting and using the park in the future. "It comes with a bigger commitment by us to stay here. Whatever is in this proposal will not belong to the baseball club. It will belong to the village. People like coming here. It's easy for people that have families to come here. You've got the playground and the park behind the field. It's a nice setting for people to set up in either a lawn chair or you have the bleachers. The scoreboard adds a lot. Some places don't even have the scoreboard. The concession stand and the restrooms, it's all a great setting. So, something miraculous would really have to happen to pull us away. Based on my knowledge of all the conversations at the high school trying to figure out hockey arenas and football fields, I don't foresee any youth park showing up unless someone donates a few million bucks to help develop it. I think it's safe to say that this is a 5-10 year commitment, before there's even a consideration of anything else," said Josh Klinger. Trustees asked Licht and Klinger to work together to refine the costs for the suggested improvements and bring those to the next Park Board meeting on Feb. 27. Trustees discussed ways to arrive at a water credit for residents who were asked to keep their water running due to the extreme cold temperatures. Trustees reasoned that it was more cost efficient to run the water than to have to repair damage due to frozen pipes and mains. Engesether volunteered to calculate a "threshold" illustrating a usage of 5 percent, 10 percent or 15 percent more when compared to the previous quarter's usage. Usage over a certain percentage could be credited back to residents on the next quarter's billing. Trustees tabled any decision until they have enough information to determine a practical, repeatable method to determine a credit and can author a policy describing the circumstances under which the credit conditions would apply in the future.

Other business

• Trustees approved reimbursing Police Chief Hecht $579.99 for the purchase of a laptop for department use.

• Trustees agreed to renew the village's lease for 40 acres of farm land with Dick Hesselink at a rate of $75 per acre through 2021. Trustees cited Hesselink's historic investment to improve soil quality, general stewardship of the property and good faith bargaining with the village.

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