Residents speak at council meeting
by Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Several residents spoke during the comment session at the Sept. 8 Gardner City Council meeting.
Chris Ward, Gardner resident, addressed the council saying he was concerned about cars speeding in his neighborhood and the danger it created at the crosswalk. Ward said he had received a response after a previous email about his concern.
He said police had come out to record speeds in his Stone Creek Drive neighborhood. The neighborhood is situated off of Highway 56 on the other side of the tracks from Moonlight Drive and Main Street. Ward said the speed numbers averaged 28 m.p.h. and weren’t reflecting what the neighborhood experiences.
“I know when I see a cop I slow down,” he said. Ward said he wanted to know if it was viable to install speed bumps in his neighborhood. He said it was a bottleneck of people in his neighborhood with a bus stop, crosswalk and park.
Michael Kramer, public works director, said the city could come back in four to six months to look and gather speed data again. He said the issue with a speed bump or table is slowing down traffic when there isn’t a need.
“We don’t have any in any part of the city,” he said.
Randy Gregorcyk, council member, said he wanted to know why the city would wait four to six months and not review in a quicker amount of time.
“The speed data is nothing outstanding,” Kramer said.
Gregorcyk said he was concerned with school starting and school traffic again. “I suggest sooner than later,” he said.
Lee Krout, captain, Gardner Police Department, said they could look into returning to the neighborhood in the next few weeks to assess the speeding traffic.
A letter from Jan Pringle, Gardner Lake, was read into the record by Steve Shute, mayor. In the letter Pringle voiced concerns regarding the conduct of council members and said, “a fish rots from the top down.”
“I saw a middle schooler’s video mocking the murder of a man from police brutality while many respondents dismissed it as merely ‘kids will be kids,’” she wrote, referring to a Facebook video of local students reenacting the death of George Floyd while in police custody. “I saw a City Council member who ‘liked’ a Facebook meme mocking Black Lives Matter and shockingly showing appreciation of a teenager who murdered two people in Wisconsin. I saw a black woman called a racist for wishing to see diversity on the city council. I see residents on social media constantly issuing racist and sexist comments while bullying the science-minded people.”
“I saw a City Council member mocking a peaceful demonstration by dressing up with guns and attack gear,” she continued.
Pringle also writes, “Can there be any question where fodder for these negative and racist attitudes originate? When I see City Council members themselves defying a government mandate to wear a simple face mask one can only blame the head of the fish for much of it. Of course the City Council members can’t be held responsible for the actions of everyone, but they can and should be a model of what is right.”
“I have friends in other parts of the metro area who make derogatory remarks about Gardner,” she continues. “The city is gaining a poor reputation with our neighbors and this will ultimately hinder future growth. As a Realtor of over 40 years I know that businesses these days often analyze the social media and public sentiment in a city before deciding on where to relocate.”
Shute read Pringle’s complete statement into the public record and mentioned Pringle is not a constituent.
Adrianna Meder, planning commissioner, made a statement declining the city administrator’s invitation to attend an executive session. Meder said she was available to discuss any concerns in public, but would not go behind closed doors. Council members did not comment publicly. (See article “Meder declines to attend executive session”.)
In other business, the city passed several items at their meeting:
-Dave Knopick was hired as the new Community Development Director. He starts next week and replaces Larry Powell who left in July.
-City council passed many changes to codes and ordinances referred to as “housekeeping” items. These codes and ordinances included changing the municipal code from Business and Economic Development Department and Director to Community Development Department and Director, amending the multiple chapter of the buildings and construction codes with the addition of mandatory storm shelters removed for the high expense, amending sections of the Municipal Code for the Building Code Board of Appeals, establishing the ability for the City Council to set fees and establishing a schedule of fees and changes to Titles 2, 5, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 17 of the Gardner Municipal Code.
Amy Nasta, senior management analyst, said it has been four years since the city had updated the fees.
“We wanted to have consistency,” she said.