YME High School art teacher Tammy Isfeld came to the Granite Falls Cty Council to update them on the next phase of the flood wall mural project. She showed the design her group of high school students had voted to be the best. Brian Laidlaw was commissioned to write a poem, the first stanza will be put on tiles built into the design.

Council member Joe Fagnano expressed disagreement about the design, saying that it looked too similar to the existing mural. “I just want to see something different. This looks the same.”

Council member Sarina Otaibi said “I know as council we approve things, but I think we should give a little more leeway, and trust the artists from our community...”

Council member Scott Peterson added, “I like the design. The first thing high school seniors want to do when they graduate is leave. This is something that ties them back to the community. I’m all for the high school seniors being involved in the design.

Mayor Dave Smiglewski asked Fagnano if he wanted to have a committee meeting to discuss the designs of the murals. Fagnano replied that he would like that and City Manager Crystal Johnson will work with Isfeld to set a date for that meeting. Isfeld eventually explained that the design presented to the council was not the final design and was drawn with a limited color pallete on a relatively small piece of paper compared to a giant poster.

After more discussion, the council voted to approved the design, with Fagnano voting against it.

Memorial Park Project

The council approved calling for bids of Phase 1 improvements at Memorial Park. Work will include several upgrades to the large shelter house including roof and overhang repairs, new lighting and electrical upgrades along with masonry tuck-pointing and other aesthetic work and sidewalk replacement.The project also includes a new restroom and shower building for campers and general park use located further to the south of the present restroom facility. A new entrance to the south side of the park will be constructed along with pedestrian safety improvements on Highway 67 near the large shelter house including flashing lights and and a new sidewalk to the new restroom/shower building.

The total project cost is estimated at just under $590,000. Bids for the project will be awarded at the June 4th council meeting. The project is being funded by a grant from the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission with a match of 10 percent from the city. The city has also been tentatively earmarked for a grant for Phase 2 improvements at the park. More details on that will be forthcoming this summer.

In other news:

Attorney Ken Fellman discussed the proposed right of way and pole lease agreements with Verizon and ExteNet for small cell wireless towers and antennas within the city limits. He clarified terms of the agreement, and the council approved the master agreement. The council will still have to approve supplemental agreements for each location of the actual tower and antenna installations. The agreement is for 15 years, with optional 5 year increment extensions.

Tyler Hansen spoke to the council on behalf of LTD Broadband. The company desires to install antennas on the city's two water towers. They are willing to offer free internet service to all city buildings or would also be swilling to rent space on the water towers. The council will do research and decide at a later date.

The council approved the purchase of a grass rig for the fire department. The total bid price using the state's bidding program is $81,086.30 and includes all equipment.The old grass rig pickup could be used to replace an older city vehicle, if the council approves that move later this summer. The council also approved a mutual aid agreement for the fire departments between Southwest Fire Department Association and West Central Fire Department Association, in which Granite Falls is a member.

EDA Director Cathy Anderson updated the council that she had a verbal offer on an industrial lot south of the new Van Deist Supply warehouse and office. She is expecting a written offer soon. The council approved listing industrial lots on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to help prospective buyers find that Granite Falls has industrial development lots available.

Anderson also mentioned that wireless service is being made available to the plazas along Prentice Street south of the foot bridge as a donation from MVTV Wireless. They will add wireless towers and and there will be new seating areas, including two new tables.

The Granite Falls Police Department will be starting a Facebook page and the council approved a social media policy for the department to follow.

The council also approved a contract with the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (RDC) to assist in pursuing grant funding for Phase 3 Memorial Park improvements. The contract with the RDC will not exceed $5,900.