Council approves separation, release agreement with planning director

Monday, May 18, 2020

3rd filing of ATV, golf cart ordinances pass; COVID-19 discussion continues

The Spencer City Council voted to approve a separation of employment and general release agreement with planning director Steve Hallgren during its meeting Monday night. Prior to the meeting, Spencer City Manager Amanda Mack said she was unable to comment on the matter further than to say the vacant planning director position would be discussed during an upcoming personnel meeting on June 8.

Council discussion Monday night was relatively brief regarding the agenda item, save for a single question.

“I just want to be sure, he was given every opportunity to pass the tests and they just couldn’t get done?” Ward 3 City Councilman Tracey Larsen said.

“Yes,” Mack answered.

Hallgren was first hired as Spencer Planning Director in May 2019 to succeed his predecessor, Kirby Schmidt, who retired the following month.

ATV & GOLF CART ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

The council voted to approve the third and final filings for two ordinance amendments regarding the use of ATVs and golf carts on city streets, which will officially go into effect on May 27. City officials said a publicity campaign regarding the changes is being planned.

While the vehicles will be allowed to drive on city streets, they will still not be allowed to be driven on the Grand Avenue bridge and highways. Spencer Police Chief Mark Warburton outlined what regulations remained the same and what will change for the use of the vehicles in the city of Spencer.

“The ATVs, you have to have a valid driver’s license to drive an ATV, 16 years of age or older,” Warburton said. “The 16- and 17-year-olds have to have an ATV safety certificate as well. So they actually have to go in and take the safety program for them to qualify for that. The biggest restriction for the ATVs is they cannot be driven on a state highway. They can make a direct crossing of the highway, but they cannot drive on Highways 71 and 18. The golf carts as well, you have to be 16 years of age and have a valid driver’s license to be able to use them. … I think the golf cart especially, that ordinance hopefully we can get those displayed at the muni and at the country club to help alleviate any questions they might have.

He continued, “Insurance is required on both the ATVs and the golf carts, valid proof of insurance.”

COVID-19 DISCUSSION

The city also returned to discussion over the status of city facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The campground, our recommendation is that we reopen the city campground effective Friday, May 22,” Mack said. “I did send you a memo … that outlines the social distancing measures that will be put into place which does include the closure of every other campsite. At this time the public bathrooms, wash houses and shelter houses remain closed. Playgrounds remain closed due to Gov. (Kim) Reynolds' orders. She was asked about that on the press conference today and while not giving a firm answer did allude to the notion that those would be closed for a while. The aquatic center also remains closed due to Reynolds' orders.

She continued, “Basketball courts, we’re recommending those remain closed until the social distancing guidelines change. It’s really hard to enforce 6 feet of separation when you’re playing a pickup game of basketball. Tennis courts, we’re recommending that we reopen them tomorrow. The dog park, that will reopen as soon as construction is completed out there. … City Hall, recommending that City Hall remain closed to the pubic until June 1. When we reopen we’ll have sneeze guards installed and limit the number of individuals in the building at one time. … Public meetings, I recommend we resume in person public meetings on June 1, however we want to continue to limit in person attendance to 10 or less, we’ll continue to utilize online meeting platforms for those who are more comfortable participating online right now and to limit the attendance in the building.”

Mack also recommended that the Spencer Public Library on June 1 allow individuals into the building, but without public computers or seating available.

“It’s essentially to get in, get your books, utilize the copy and fax services that have been closed for a while and get out,” Mack said. “With a recommendation on reassessing on June 15 to see where we’re at numbers wise. You may remember the library was the first facility that we closed, … purely for the fact there’s such a diverse group of individuals who use the facility and there are so many surfaces to be touched, sanitation becomes a real challenge when it’s heightened like it is.”

The council unanimously approved adopting the recommendations.

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