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Clean-up a success, garage sale signs still an issue

It’s taken awhile, but the Cloquet Clean-up Day on June 7 tallied some impressive final numbers, according to Community Development Director Holly Butcher, who summarized the event by numbers and costs during the Cloquet City Council work session Tuesday.

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Between 500-800 vehicles came to the event.

The total weight of electronic items collected was 31,386 pounds.

Appliances ranged from 57 dehumidifiers/humidifiers, 26 air conditioners and 52 microwaves to 22 water heaters, 16 washing machines, one furnace and more.

A total of 326 tires were turned in.

The Disabled American Veterans filled a truck two-thirds of the way with donated items that can be reused and sold.

Shamrock Trucking hauled away a total of 7.8 tons of bulky items, such as discarded furniture and other solid household waste (not garbage).

One hundred eighty-eight households brought hazardous waste. Items collected included 1,094 pounds of batteries, 850 light bulbs, 455 gallons of latex paint, 100 gallons of oil-based paint, 22 pressurized cylinders and 2,260 pounds of other household hazardous waste.

Although the total costs came to $33,221, those costs were shared between the city of Cloquet ($8,526), and its partners, including Cloquet Sanitary ($7,647), Western Lake Superior Sanitary District ($8,377) and Shamrock Environmental Landfill ($7,671). Carlton County also paid $1,000, for two staff members to help at the Cloquet clean-up as well as two extra staff members who had to be called in to work at the transfer station because there was significant overflow from the Cloquet event.

Councilor Dave Manderfeld, who also serves on the WLSSD Board, said he considered the event a huge success in terms of the volume of waste collected and the fact that it was disposed of in a responsible manner.

“When you consider we’re not going to have to pay city workers to pick up that waste out of a ditch somewhere, to me this was outstanding,” Manderfeld said.

Interim Police Chief Terry Hill agreed, noting the waste was “potential future debris” that may not have been disposed of properly.

Councilors and city officials also discussed whether to hold similar events in the future, once or twice a year, and whether the event resulted in the cleanup of any of the city’s distressed areas.

Butcher said city staff didn’t see a big change in those areas as a direct result of the clean-up day. She said she thought people realized the city is proactively trying to take action to clean up the area, that there is now a “political component,” or a will to change, that people are seeing.

She described how a couple of different properties in the West End reacted promptly after city staff stopped and explained that the trash and items in the yards needed to be disposed of.

“The message that you’re sending to the community is dead-on,” Fritsinger told her.

Also, during the work session city officials discussed a petition to pave Taylor Avenue in Cloquet, which was received in April.

The petition was signed by 10 people; there are 10 homes on Taylor Avenue, which lies west of South Oak Street.

In his staff report, City Engineer Jim Prusak noted that there is another portion of West Taylor Avenue that dead-ends about 300 feet short of its twin. South Laurel Street is another dead-end street near West Taylor. Prusak noted that the current Comprehensive Land Use Plan depicts that one day all three of those roads would be interconnected, improving access for residents, emergency vehicles and other traffic, as well as more efficient snow plowing, garbage collection and school bus routes. As well, there are two long dead-end city water mains in that area, which result in poorer water quality and lower fire hydrant flows.

Prusak suggested connecting South Laurel Street and West Taylor Avenue off South Oak to eliminate two dead-end road segments and accommodate the looping of the water mains, without causing a substantial increase in vehicle traffic.

He suggested city officials hold an informal informational meeting with the residents of all three neighborhoods if the paving project and other work looks like it will be the subject of a public hearing.

During the formal meeting Tuesday, the Council and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren took the following actions:

  •  Unanimously approved the vacation of a utility and drainage easement for Sam and Julie Jacobson, 1217 Slate St., so they wouldn’t have to move their home. When an addition was made to the home in 2002, it was done incorrectly. Although the site plan showed the addition at 10 feet from the property line, when the neighboring property was surveyed last year, it was determined the home at 1217 Slate St. was placed within one foot of the property line and the eaves actually overhang the property line. The Jacobsons only recently purchased the property and utilities had already been run through a different property. The Cloquet Planning Commission had recommended approval after a public hearing July 8, attended only by the Jacobsons.
  •  Approved the appointment of Nathaniel Wilkinson to the Cable Commission. At-large Councilor Lara Wilkinson abstained from voting, because the candidate is her husband.
  •  Discussed options for a community garage sale sign board that could be located in the parking lot near the dropboxes off Cloquet Avenue near US Bank.

Interim Police Chief Terry Hill and City Administrator Brian Fritsinger both felt that the sign should be enclosed, and Fritsinger suggested maybe residents could drop off their notices at City Hall during the week and a city employee would post them on a certain day of the week. Although its not a high priority task for the city, he said it might be a way to manage what he referred to as an “eyesore.”

There was a short discussion of whether such a sign would stop people from adorning their cars with sale signs, something that started after the city began a concerted effort to crack down on the two popular corners for garage sale signs (on the corner of 14th Street and Carlton Avenue and 14th and Washington Avenue).

“The only other solution is to go back to allowing signs wherever,” Fritsinger said.

In other matters, Ahlgren also noted that city officials received a letter about handicapped parking on Cloquet Avenue and would be looking into the issue at a future work session.