Four seek two seats in Burnsville
Burning, landfills and drinking water quality were among the topics discussed by Burnsville City Council candidates in an online forum.
It was hosted by the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce, with questions from the chamber’s public policy committee. The forum was posted on the chamber’s website on October 10.
Four candidates are seeking two four-year terms on November 8. Incumbents Dan Kealey, first elected in 2006, and Vince Workman, elected in 2018, are seeking re-election.
Kriystauhl Fitchett, chairman of the city’s economic development commission, and Chris John, chairman of the city’s planning commission, are also in the running. Fitchett was absent from the forum.
John, a Burnsville resident for 18 years, said he was a US Navy veteran and an accountant. He volunteered at his two sons’ schools, served as a sports coach for the Burnsville Athletic Club, was appointed to the Economic Development Commission in 2012 and was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2019.
He said his priorities were to clean up unlined landfills and keep drinking water safe, revitalize the Burnsville Center area and other run-down areas, and make unused fiber optic cables available. of the city to promote competition with existing Internet service providers.
“On the one hand, I want to make sure we’re budgeting the city correctly,” John said. “I don’t want to cut (services) just to cut taxes. We get what we pay for.
Kealey, who has six children and three grandchildren, said that in his 16 years on the board he ‘never lost sight of the money for which I am privileged to be responsible – yours , Burnsville ratepayers who own and rent property”.
His community service includes starting the annual Heart of the City Run in Burnsville 11 years ago and volunteering with the Burnsville Festival and Fire Muster, most recently as president, Kealey said.
He said he has been an advocate for public safety since he was first elected.
“Our biggest expense, the biggest slice of our pie, is public safety,” Kealey said, adding that he “fought very hard to give our public safety departments all the tools, all the staff and all the all the facilities they need to do their job”. .”
Workman, a father of three with another on the way who grew up in Burnsville and graduated from Burnsville High School, said he was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2015, which he chaired in 2017 and 2018 .
It showed him that the city posed “barriers” to development through its zoning codes, “and I thought some of those things had to change,” Workman said. “We needed to find a way to say ‘yes’ and work with developers rather than finding mundane things in our code like cladding materials and matching colors inside buildings, and that’s work that still excites me today.”
Burnsville Northeast Upgrade
Candidates were asked about improving parts of the city, including its northeast section, which has two closed schools (Metcalf and Sioux Trail) and a run-down corner on Highway 13 and Diffley Road, which includes Mr. B’s gas station and car, long vacant. wash, built in 1960, and the strip mall Riverview Centre, built in 1965.
The city attempted to purchase the property, “unfortunately with no serious response from the owner,” Kealey said.
With a 536-unit housing project proposed for the Metcalf site adjacent to Eagan, the owner of the Burnsville property may have an incentive to sell it for redevelopment, he said. The city is willing to consider financial assistance for a private developer, Kealey said.
Workman noted that his family’s insurance business was once located in the mall.
The council rejected a proposal for an apartment block “with a significant demand for public money, which we did not agree to, including TIF accommodation, which we did not”, said said Workman.
There is “more to come,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to wait much longer.”
John said the property heightens the city’s need to fund its Economic Development Authority.
“We didn’t fund it, though,” he said. “So even if it was available to buy right now, we wouldn’t have the funds to do it.”
He said he considered the area destroyed 18 years ago when he moved to Burnsville. “If you speak with the residents of this area, it’s a very popular topic,” John said.
Candidates were asked about the “hot topic” of the Burnsville landfill height. In August, the council voted unanimously to allow an expansion of the landfill at the bottom of the Minnesota River, which would increase the maximum allowable height from 104 feet to 372. This would be done in stages as the Control Agency Minnesota Pollution Authority issues new permits authorizing more spills. The City of Bloomington and some Burnsville residents oppose the maximum height.
As planning commissioner, John voted against the recommendation for approval of the expansion.
When the landfill was created 60 years ago, there was no thought of putting a landfill so close to a river, John said.
“But today, to double down on that, to increase in size and continue with what would have otherwise closed, what are they going to think of us in 60 years?” he said.
The only benefit of the “garbage mountain” is that it could take garbage from the dormant, unlined freeway dump and freeway dump on the west and east sides of Interstate 35W, said John.
Workman said he supported the expansion over the MPCA’s plan to “build two monstrosities at the entrance to Burnsville at the freeway dump.” Instead of removing the waste to another site, possibly the Burnsville landfill, an agency proposal would move it to new, lined facilities on existing properties, Workman said.
The Freeway Landfill facility would be 790 feet tall and the Freeway Dump facility 730 feet tall, he said, “and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to stop that from happening, and the only way to stop this is to allow this expansion to Waste Management (owner of the Burnsville sanitary landfill).
Workman noted that the height increases will be gradual and that the Burnsville sanitary landfill has leachate and methane collection systems to prevent groundwater contamination.
Kealey said the city should focus on moving waste from the freeway to a landfill lined with Burnsville Sanitary Landfill.
“Right now we have two landfills that pose an unknown threat to our drinking water – that’s the Freeway Landfill and Freeway Dump,” Kealey said. “So yes, I support this additional MPCA license in this area because it was already designated decades ago.”
Moving waste from the highway to the Burnsville sanitary landfill would halve the area of landfills in Burnsville, “so that’s a good thing,” he said. The expansion also moves the boundaries of the landfill 700 feet further from the river, he said.
Candidates were asked about the taste and smell of Burnsville drinking water, which prompted complaints. The forum was held ahead of the public release of a survey showing that only 72% of the city’s water customers use it for drinking, and 56% would support higher water bills for clean water. High quality. Council members agreed during a working session on October 11 to spend approximately $65,000 for a study identifying the nature of the complaints and possible solutions.
Workman said a year ago the council discussed an ozone treatment system costing about $6 million, but waited for more information.
It could be a worthwhile investment, John said.
“The first thing I hear when I knock on doors is the quality of the water: ‘It tastes funny, I have to use these different systems to clean it,'” he said. -he declares.
Kealey said he once lived on the dead end of two cul-de-sacs in Burnsville where the water smelled like “swamp water.” It’s “considerably better” in his current home, but no resident deserves poor-quality water, he said.
“I’ve barked hard enough over the last few years to do something about it, and it hasn’t been an easy fight,” Kealey said. “It really took a lot of advocacy to get the city council to pay attention to it, to get the study done, to learn now from the survey that a very large percentage of people in Burnsville don’t like the taste of our water. . ”