December City Council Recap
By Jared Raney
Monday brought the end-of-the-year meeting to City Council.
Among nearly three dozen approvals, significant changes included the approval of a $2.1 million loan for the Rhinelander sewer project, and the re-issuance of previous USDA-Rural Development loans.
Council also concluded work on Well House No. 8, a new well that had issues with sand over the past year and required over $20,000 in repairs.
The Oneida County Humane Society received an early Christmas gift, as the Council approved transferring ownership of Humane Society land and facility to OCHS itself.
As an early purchase of the 2016 approved budget, Council approved $550,000 for a new fire truck and rescue tools, such as a new battery-operated Jaws of Life system.
Use of the Northwood Golf Club pro shop was approved for the Northwoods Nordic Ski Club this winter as a warming area, a concept that has been in the works for some time as part of the Heal Creek recreation area proposal.
Lastly, a can of worms was opened with the recent realization by the City that an alley in the downtown district, which has been plowed and maintained in recent memory by the City, is in fact private property.
The Public Works committee in their December meeting voted to discontinue maintenance of the alley, but Council opted to table the issue at the recommendation of Dan Kuzlik, president of Downtown Rhinelander, Inc., and John O’Melia, a business owner affected by the decision.
The main issue for the City is liability in maintaining private property, but business owners at the meeting expressed their own concern at potential conflicts in maintaining a shared alley and the unexpected cost to small businesses for snow removal on short notice.
Council tabled the issue and instructed city attorney Carrie Miljevich to work with O’Melia and the other business owners to gather Hold Harmless Agreements, which would release the City from liability in the short term.