Council approves addition of 2nd school resource officer

Published 5:17 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved an agreement with the Albert Lea school district for two school resource officers — up by one from recent years.

City Manager Ian Rigg said the hope is to take the school resource officer program from a reactive program into one that is more proactive.

The last time there were two school resource officers in the city was in 2012. The second position was eliminated at that time mainly because of budget cuts.

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City and school leaders in previous discussions about the issue have said current School Resource Officer Adam Conn, who is primarily at the high school, is spending more and more time on paperwork as the cases he deals with are increasingly becoming more complex, especially when dealing with social media.

There has also been an overall increase in cases.

Rigg said the city will select one of the existing officers for the position, and that individual would job shadow the existing school resource officer at the end of this school year and then officially begin in late August or early September.

At that time, the city will hire another officer position to fill the job of the person who moved into the resource officer position.

The cost of both resource officer positions will be shared by the city and school district, with an estimated $18,000 city impact for 2023 and an about $55,000 or $60,000 city impact each year following.

The school board is expected to vote on the measure in an upcoming meeting.

In other action, the council:

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone land at 114 E. Front St. from a one-to-four family residence district to a community business district to allow for building and parking expansions at the Clark Station, 701 S. Broadway.

Rigg said the property at 114 E. Front St. had been blighted and vacant for several years and would likely be demolished regardless because it is not feasible to repair.

• Approved purchasing a new Tymco street sweeper for about $292,000 with $50,000 trade-in value for the city’s old unit.

The current sweeper has 7,320 hours on it and is eight years old. Rigg said it was at the optimum time to replace before expenses started to accumulate.

The new sweeper will be paid for through a zero percent loan through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Clean Water Partnership loan program, as well as through some cost participation with the Shell Rock River Watershed District.

• Approved plans and ordered bids for the reconstruction of portions of Fifth Street and Frank Hall Drive. Work includes removal and replacement of pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and water main.

Areas to be replaced include Fifth Street, from St. Joseph Avenue to Frank Hall Drive, and Frank Hall Drive, from Third Street to Fifth Street.

New sidewalk will be put in along Academy Park on Frank Hall Drive and between Fourth and Fifth streets to fill a gap.

The total estimated cost is about $1.64 million.

• Approved plans and ordered bids for the resurfacing of the Blazing Star Trail figure eight; Eddie Cochran Street from Frank Avenue to the southeast end; and Cedar Avenue from Sunset to Massee streets.

Estimated cost is about $715,000.

• Approved applying for a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources grant for $300,000 to go toward the inclusive playground planned for Edgewater Park.

The total project cost is estimated at over $1.2 million and is being paid for through funds from the city, county, grants, fundraisers and other business and individual donations.

• Renewed the maintenance cooperative agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to oversee operation of wastewater treatment facilities at Myre-Big Island State Park for two years.

The state will continue to perform day-to-day operations and the city will review and oversee operations, with the city being paid on an hourly basis.

• Approved transferring about $525,000 from the Broadway Ridge Project Fund to the general fund.

The council in December had passed a resolution to transfer funds to the project fund to cover costs on the 300 block of Broadway, but the city is now looking at setting up a tax-increment finance district and expects to recover the cost with tax-increment dollars.

Use of the funds in the general fund will be reviewed at a later time.