Citing safety, Isanti moves forward with County Road 5 address changes

The city of Isanti will move forward with address changes along County Road 5.

Following a public forum Jan. 28 to explain the proposed changes and hear community input, the Isanti City Council passed a motion at the meeting Feb. 5 to express their support of the project to change the name of County Road 5 within the city of Isanti.

Back in September, the council heard a report from representatives of the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board (MESB) regarding the possibility of changing and updating certain city of Isanti addresses.

MESB provides support for the public safety of residents throughout the state of Minnesota by managing the public radio system, managing the regional 911 system and coordinating the regional emergency medical services (EMS) system.

A geographic information system (GIS) is used to coordinate the effort for the region, and Isanti County has been working with a GIS 911 consultant and representatives from MESB to update all the addresses throughout the county.

Their goal is to ensure that addresses and locations are accurately reflected within the GIS and ensure the correct emergency services are dispatched to the correct location in emergencies.

While updating addresses, discrepancies had been noted in the city of Isanti, particularly along County Road 5.

A MESB representative said the inconsistencies make it difficult to map and ultimately to dispatch emergency services to the correct address. In some cases, the computer may find two locations for the same address, which can result in misrouted calls and a delay in services.

At the Feb. 5 city council meeting, Isanti Mayor George Wimmer said it ultimately comes down to safety.

“It’s to make sure we don’t have duplicate addressing issues so when a 911 call goes out, they’re being sent to the right place,” he said.

The timeline for address changes is unknown at this time, Wimmer said. The Isanti Area Chamber of Commerce has offered to hold a contest for the naming of County Road 5, Wimmer said, explaining the city council has final say.

Council Member Steve Lundeen said he was worried about the estimated cost for businesses along County Road 5 to change their addresses—an average cost between $1,500 and $2,000, said Isanti Economic Development Director Sean Sullivan.

“It’s going to be a cost for residents as well,” Wimmer said. “Hundreds of people will be affected, plus the businesses.”

Lundeen said he knows the changes must take place. In his motion to have the city move forward, he said he would like to see Isanti County on board with the changes so the addressing system is consistent county-wide.

“It is a safety issue. It’s not an issue of wanting to do this, it’s something that needs to be done,” Lundeen said. “For a business, that’s a lot of money. If we’re going to do something, we should do it sooner (rather) than later. And I think that we need to make sure this isn’t going to keep occurring.”

City hires new Public Works Director

The council passed a resolution to offer the Public Works Director position to Nicholas Fleischhacker.

“He has a very good background,” Mayor Wimmer said. “He’s worked for a larger public works department in the past. He’s really kind of a front line worker—he’ll be out there plowing, he’ll be out there working with the guys, which I think will be really nice.”

Former Public Works Director Patrick Meyer retired as of Jan. 31, after 11 years of service to Isanti.

In other action, the council:

• Passed a resolution authorizing city staff to prepare and submit an application for the 2013 Safe Routes to Schools grant for sidewalks along County Road 5 NE. The city has identified the construction of the County Road 5 NE sidewalk from Elim Lane NE to Credit Union Drive NE on the south side a priority for the community.

• Passed a resolution in support of the Isanti Fire District’s proposal to obtain special legislation to change the current joint powers fire district to an independent fire district. The district would have its own operating and taxing authority, not requiring further contributions from Isanti.