Stillwater’s Fourth of July celebration will feature nearly $50,000 worth of awe-inspiring fireworks from RES Pyrotechnics, the same company that has provided them for years. In addition to bands in Lowell Park, St. Croix Jazz Orchestra will perform in the Pioneer Park bandshell, Civil War cannons will be booming from Mulberry Point, and there may be a military flyover. The City is looking for a radio station to simulcast the event, since the closure of local radio station KLBB in 2018. Stillwater officials were briefed on the details during the May 7 council meeting.
Residents might also mark their calendars for Sept. 27 and 28 for “Lift and Loop,” the celebration of the reopening of the St. Croix River Lift Bridge and the loop trail. Uniting communities on both sides of the river, the event will include a ribbon cutting, street dance, concert on the plaza and dinner table stretching all the way across the bridge; local civic groups and officials will serve the grub.
A subcommittee is also working on “Hands Over the Croix,” an attempt to set a world record for the number of people holding hands along the entire loop trail. Councilmember Mike Polehna, who’s heading up the “Lift and Loop” event, said it will probably take about 6,200 people.
Sandbags, anyone? Public Works Director Shawn Sanders said with the dismantling of the dike downtown, sandbags are available in the North Main parking lot - 60,000 of them. He added that staff will meet with Homeland Security Emergency Management representatives to discuss reimbursement for the approximately $384,000 costs of fighting this year’s flood.
The Council also presented Council Service Awards to outgoing commissioners Aimee Pelletier (Downtown Parking Commission), Robert Goodman, Angie Hadrits and Elizabeth Welty (Heritage Preservation Commission), Claire Sand (Human Rights Commission), Bill McGlynn and Rob McGarry (Parks and Recreation Commission), Jenna Fletcher and Anne Siess (Planning Commission).
In other business, after a lengthy discussion of incorporating criminal background checks into the Short Term Home Rental ordinance, the Council held the first reading of an ordinance amendment that clarifies language and incorporates minor procedural changes. Other local communities with ordinances governing short term home rentals (such as Airbnb or VRBO) do not fine for complaints nor require background checks for applicants. Planning Commissioners reviewing the ordinance amendment felt that the additional safeguards are justified and provide protection for neighbors and guests. According to City Attorney Kori Land, a conviction for crimes such as theft, that could in any way be related to the business, must have occurred within the past five years to be deemed a disqualifying event.
Community Development Director Bill Turnblad said due to the limited number of Type A, B and C licenses available, the true deterrent may be the threat of loss of the license itself after three substantiated complaints. Turnblad said in the three years since the City has allowed STHRs under the ordinance, there have been only two complaints, both against the same property, whose operators promptly resolved the problems.
Currently, including permit and inspection fees, the City charges $550 for Type C licenses and $300 for Type A and B licenses. The fines and fees are designed to cover the costs of administering the program.
The Council also:
approved plans for the 2019 sidewalk rehabilitation project, encompassing 50 properties, mainly downtown;
tabled an ordinance addressing minimum standards for construction and reconstruction of driveways for staff to look at average driveway widths around town;
approved a route for the St. Croix Crossing Half Marathon to be held on July 27. The race will begin in western Wisconsin, cross over the new bridge, run north along the river on the loop trail and finish by the historic lift bridge. It is expected to draw 1,000 to 1,500 runners.
Under T for Toaster (or Trivia):
Mayor Ted Kozlowski informed the Council that 100 years ago, May 29, 1919, Stillwater employee Charles Strite filed a patent for the first pop-up toaster.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, “Charles P. Strite, born in Minneapolis received patent #1,394,450 on Oct. 18, 1921, for the bread-toaster. During World War I, Strite worked in a manufacturing plant in Stillwater where he became frustrated with the burned toast served in the cafeteria. Strite, determined to find a way of toasting bread that did not depend on human attention, invented the pop-up toaster with a variable timer. In 1925, using a redesigned version of Strite's toaster, the Toastmaster Company began to market the first household toaster that could brown bread on both sides simultaneously, set the heating element on a timer, and eject the toast when finished. By 1926, Charles Strite's Toastmaster was available to the public and was a huge success.”