City aquatics center won't be ready this summer; council approves retirement of WPD K-9 officer

The expanded city aquatics center being constructed on the grounds of the Worthington Area YMCA will not open this summer as anticipated, Worthington Public Works Director Todd Wietzema reported during Monday’s Worthington City Council meeting.


It had been hoped that the aquatics center would be able to open by July 1, but weather this spring has been uncooperative. While Wietzema praised the work of the contractor and others affiliated with work at the site, he added that frost remains in the ground at the site and cold and wet weather remains in the forecast.


With July 1 already an impossibility, Wietzema said an intention to open later in the summer would likely bring about staffing issues with many lifeguards probably going off to college.


“We will not open this season for business,” Wietzema said, stressing that weather “just killed us.” Of the project’s construction, he added, “We want to do this once and do it right. We don’t want to take any chances to push this thing open.”


Also during the meeting, the council approved the decommissioning of Worthington Police Department K-9 officer Frank’ee as city property, allowing the dog to become the family pet of Dustin Roemeling.


The WPD has set the official date for K-9 Frank'ee's retirement for today. K-9 Frank'ee started his career with WPD in 2016 when Sergeant Roemeling was hired and Frank'ee was purchased from the Nobles County Sheriff's Office.


“Together they have displayed professionalism and dedication to Worthington and have been instrumental in keeping the city safe,” stated the public safety memo included in the city council Monday night meeting packet. “Throughout Frank'ee's career he was deployed over 110 times, performed dozens of public demos (and) located large quantities of controlled substances including 800+ pounds of marijuana, and 12+ pounds of methamphetamine.


“Frank'ee certified twice every year with high enough scores to qualify for the national dog trials. He received numerous awards including first place in obedience in 2017, and National Case of the Quarter in 2018.”


In another public safety matter, council members approved the expenditure of Alarm Reserve Funds to cover repair costs associated with a 2015 Ford Transit Cargo van. The WPD has seized and received in forfeiture the van, which only has 55,000 miles on it but needs significant body and minor mechanical repairs.


WPD requested quotes from multiple body shops and received a quote back from Schuett Auto Body, which provided an estimate of $15,390 and offered to assist with other improvements at no cost. The van would replace the current Emergency Response Unit 1986 Cube Van and a 1993 GMC Vandura, both of which have been with the department since the early 1990s. It’s expected that the Ford van will be in service for at least 20 years.


Additionally, the council approved a new Law Enforcement Labor Services #274 three-year contract agreement. LELS #274 represents patrol sergeants, the detective sergeant and dispatch supervisor.


Among the terms of the agreement are yearly cost-of-living adjustments of 3.5% effective Jan. 1, 2022, Jan. 1, 2023 and Jan. 1, 2024, respectively. Several longevity payments have also been changed from the previous agreement.


Council members also approved Short Elliot Hendrickson's design and construction plans for the Olson Park pedestrian bridge project. The work is set to include an 8-foot wide, fully ADA approved steel structured walk bridge. The proposed walk bridge would replace the existing bridge that connects the Olson Park Trail to Sunset Park; it was noted that new bridge will be slightly more than twice as wide as the current bridge.

Bids will be advertised on the city website beginning Tuesday. Bids would then be opened May 17 and a contract awarded May 23.


Additionally, council members accepted an $81,334.39 proposal from the security company Midwest Alarms that would put video cameras in city parks and on city buildings. Facilities and areas included in this proposal are: Buss Field and 10th Street Plaza cloud video system; Chautauqua Park cloud video system; Centennial Park cloud video system; Olson Park cloud video system; theater parking cameras; and water tower wireless links, and equipment. These systems would also allow for law enforcement to check and investigate any illegal activities occurring in these areas.


Issues with vandalism were cited in the need for the video cameras. The city will use COVID relief money to fund the purchases.


In additional business, the council:

  • Approved a proclamation recognizing Provider Appreciation Day on Friday, May 6, 2022.

  • Approved a resolution to convey the city's Glenwood Heights Third Addition to the EDA so that lots may be sold to interested parties for residential development in accordance with Minnesota statute.

  • Passed the second reading of language that would completely remove the city’s retail shopping overlay district from city code.

  • Adopted a resolution accepting the donation of eight trees from the Silent Oak Society that will be planted on the old pool site, between the fish rearing ponds.

  • Approved a change order for the JBS Field House project submitted by Tri-State General Contracting in the amount of $12,445.06 to replace a gypcrete surface that was to be installed on the mezzanine and replace it with an additional layer of ¾" subflooring and LVT tile.



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