City explores compost site possibilities

The city of Cambridge is again considering a compost site.

Public Works Director Steve Wegwerth reported there have been discussions again about the city operating a compost site during the Cambridge City Council meeting Jan. 22.

Sister City Representative Joe Morin presents gifts to the Cambridge City Council during its Jan. 22 meeting. The gifts were received from Yuasa, Japan and the Yuasa International Cultural Exchange Society. Pictured, from left, are Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer, council member Chris Caulk, Joe Morin and council members Lisa Iverson and Howard “Howie” Lewis. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Sister City Representative Joe Morin presents gifts to the Cambridge City Council during its Jan. 22 meeting. The gifts were received from Yuasa, Japan and the Yuasa International Cultural Exchange Society. Pictured, from left, are Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer, council member Chris Caulk, Joe Morin and council members Lisa Iverson and Howard “Howie” Lewis. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

He explained years ago the city maintained a brush pile site located in the area where Aldi’s will locate. He said at the time, the city had installed an informational sign that read: “Brush Pile for City Residents Only, No Grass, Leaves, Trash, Etc.”

He explained the site was not fenced and as time went on, people began dropping off things such as tires, appliances, plastic bags with grass, leaves and trash.

He said the time and expense to maintain the site became prohibitive, as the city would have to remove all the unwanted items and pay to dispose of them at the transfer station, and the site eventually closed.

Wegwerth said he has talked with several other cities about their compost sites and received feedback and information.

Council member Howard “Howie” Lewis said he was alerted to the compost site issue during his candidacy and met with representatives from East Central Sanitation (ECS) to learn more.

Part of the issue is communication, Lewis noted, as ECS customers don’t realize if they call ECS ahead of time and make arrangements, it will pick up bagged leaves and grass clippings.

Lewis noted Isanti has a compost site that is well run and maintained.

“I think we are on the right path and I appreciate all your background work on this issue,” Lewis said to Wegwerth.

By consensus, the council directed Wegwerth to meet with representatives from ECS and explore further options. The item will be put back on the council agenda after Wegwerth has had the opportunity to talk to ECS.

Assistant Public Works Director position

City Administrator Lynda Woulfe brought back the assistant public works director job position as requested by council.

The purpose of the position is to perform supervisory and administrative work to coordinate the daily maintenance of the city’s public works infrastructure (streets, storm sewer system, parks, ball fields, ice rinks, trails, tree trimming/ removal, Municipal Airport, and various City buildings).

The position will also supervise the Street Division to ensure resources are efficiently used, and regularly participate in fieldwork as needed. It will also handle call- outs for snow plowing, snow removal, street sanding, or other public works emergencies as they arise. As projects demands, work may extend beyond normal hours, on occasional weekends, and occasional holidays.

Woulfe explained the position was posted internally, and two candidates were interviewed.

While Woulfe said both candidates did very well and were qualified, the city decided to offer the position to Lucas Milz, who currently works in the parks department. It was noted the position will entail a one-year probationary period for both the city and Milz.

Woulfe explained Milz has been with the city for eight years and has experience in all areas of public works. He also is an officer with the Cambridge Fire Department.

“Lucas is a well-rounded candidate,” noted Wegwerth. “We work well together and are comfortable with each other. I feel very comfortable offering this position to him.”

It was noted the city will replace Milz’s position in the parks department.

The council also directed Woulfe to draft a memorandum of understanding with the city and union that would return Milz to his former position without loss of seniority if for some reason the public works position did not work out.

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