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Council debates park power



It seems Veterans Park won't be ready for the big time after all.

After extensive discussion at Tuesday's meeting, Cloquet City Councilors didn't second a motion by Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge to install an additional power source specifically targeted to provide power to a music and lighting control, needed for larger events such as the Wood City Music Festival.

City Engineer Caleb Peterson explained to the council that staff understood the ability to power the large stage used by the Christian music festival was included in the Veterans Park project. However, when the city asked the stage supplier for specs, the supplier left out the detail that the stage needs three-phase power rather than single-phase, which is what the city ultimately installed at various locations around the park. The total cost of installing three-phase power at the northwest corner of the park where the main stage normally sits was estimated at approximately $38,500.

Councilors asked about the smaller stage originally planned to go on the south side of the new Veterans Memorial Wall, and Peterson said that location would be unsuitable for a concert like Wood City, which drew 3,000 people.

At-large Councilor Adam Bailey pointed out that the Veterans Park project was already $325,000 over budget, or approximately 33 percent beyond the originally budgeted $990,000.

"We're not being fiscally responsible when projects go $300,000 over budget," Bailey said.

After Kolodge motioned to approve the expenditure, it died for lack of a second.

Peterson is going to reach out to Wood City organizers to find out how much they spend on the generator and bring a cost-sharing proposal back to the council in advance of the 2017 festival on Aug. 12.

In other matters Tuesday:

• The council approved activities and city street closures related to the 2017 Labor Day celebration;

• The council approved a request from interim Cloquet Police Chief Jeff Palmer to solicit donations from local businesses for this year's National Night Out celebration, set for Aug. 1;

• At the recommendation of the Cloquet Planning Commission, councilors unanimously approve a variance for Thomas Montgomery to subdivide 10 acres of property into three lots at 1520 Airport Road.

• Mayor Dave Hallback responded to a question from the Pine Journal that the city has not yet begun the process of looking for a new police chief, after the investigation, exoneration and subsequent retirement of former Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek.