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September 26, 2021

8/25/2021 2:25:00 PM
Arena board schedules special meeting to discuss water, sewer improvements

by Linda Schwanke
A natural lawn ordinance under consideration by the Arena Village Board drew criticism at the August meeting from Oscar Wendt, a neighbor of a property looking to have a natural lawn. He said that the ordinance pits one neighbor against another. The ordinance would create problems the village doesn't need and he expressed concern about "varmits" and property values, saying that it looks "shabby." He also said that there are skunks that could have rabies and his wife, who wrote a letter to the board, now has problems with mice in her car. He added that there is so much brush that a fire hydrant can't be seen, "We're really against it."
The board decided to send updates on Ordinance 8.05.060 Regulation of Natural Lawns to the village attorney including sending letters to neighbors to inform them of a natural lawn request, have the fire chief investigate safety concerns and sign off prior to board approval, have the police verify that the property lines meet set back requirements, and change 'yearly' written plan, have annual inspection by a horticulture expert to ensure it meets the plan, to be paid by plan owner and be presented to board with annual approval. The decision was reached with trustees Kathy Stoltz, Rachel Maxwell, Jim Doerflinger and village president Kate Reimann in favor with trustee Paul Pustina against. Trustee Chuck Burch did not attend the meeting.
Brian Roemer of Ehlers Associates updated the board on the water and sewer rate case study. He said that the project costs are estimated at $3.17 million. He continued that revenue bonds will be used for the project. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Public Service Commission (PSC) will have to weigh in as will the Department of Administration (DOA) on financing. Currently the sewer utility doesn't have the money to service debt so Ehlers is recommending a 15.72 percent increase. The water utility is in better financial shape and a smaller rate increase of two percent could be looked at. A special meeting on Tuesday, August 17, at 7 p.m. will be held to discuss financing options.
The public works department submitted four options for a new well location that were reviewed by the board. The first three, to be located at the volleyball courts at the village park, came in with estimated costs of $1,932,000, $1,976,000 and $1,991,000 respectively. The fourth, located at the horseshoe pits, had an estimated cost of $1,946,000. The board recommended going with the second option at the volleyball courts.
Rick Kerska, owner of the former Arena Elementary School Building at 314 Willow Street, talked to the board about sidewalk/blacktop repair. He said that the driveway entrance sidewalk is cracked and standing water tends to pool there. It needs to be brought up to the level of the street and driveway to get corrected and prevent further damage. He said that per village ordinance, the village pays for two thirds of the cost of sidewalks and the property owner pays one third. His estimated costs were $1,900 for the sidewalk and $2,500 for a concrete patch on the street. Pustina said he could have come to the board earlier with his concerns.
Kathy Jennings, village engineer of MSA, also said that Kerska should have brought this up in the developer's agreement. He shouldn't be asking the village to pay for something he purchased in this condition, she added. She expressed concern about the precedence it would set. Kerska said he didn't intend to do that but he doesn't like to cut corners.
Pustina made a motion not to subsize cost which failed due to lack of a second. A motion by Stoltz to pay two thirds of the cost of the sidewalk and 100 percent of the concrete work at an estimated cost of $3,767 passed with Pustina opposed. Stoltz made a stipulation to update the developer's agreement if problems come back in the future.
Stoltz contacted the Arena Historians about working with an ad-hoc committee on a centennial celebration for the village next year. She said five more volunteers are needed to help. Interested people can contact her at or call village hall at 753-2133 for more information.
The board discussed what to do with the former Crusader's building on Oak Street which the village purchased in 2016. Pustina said it was purchased for future development. The board will give it more thought and bring it back to the next regular board meeting on September 7.
Public works is recommending trapping muskrats at the West Park pond and drainage ditch, which the board agreed to.
The board authorized spending $2,500 of American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to look into a ditch/stormwater solution for flooding problems in an area on the south side of the village. Pustina said it's been looked at before and nothing can be done about it. Stoltz disagreed and said the problem has not always existed. A motion to move forward passed with Pustina voting against it.
Fee schedules with the following changes: 6.05.220 Chickens - $15; 6.05.210 Bees $25; 8.05.060 Natural Lawns $25; 9.15.080 Amplified Device Permit $10; and 8.01.046 Golf Cart $10 were approved.
ARPA funds will also be used to give bonuses to village employees. The poll workers will each receive $50 the five full time employees will each receive $1,000 and the police department intern will receive $380. Pustina opposed the motion.

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