BAXTER - The Baxter City Council Monday voted 3-1 to find out how much a joint feasibility study for a railroad quiet zone designation with the city of Brainerd and Crow Wing County would cost.
A railroad quiet zone would require the Brainerd/Baxter area to reduce the risk levels at railroad crossings along the railroad corridor and as a result train whistles would not be sounded as the trains pass through.
Council member Todd Holman said he opposed the motion because the quiet zone designation requirements will cost the city a lot of money and there are more important transportation issues in the city. Mayor Darrel Olson and council members Rob Moser and Gary Muehlhausen voted in favor of the motion. Council member Jim Klein did not attend the meeting.
Trevor Walter, Baxter public works director, said it cost one city about $5 million to make the necessary improvements at railroad crossings but he said it likely won't cost Baxter nearly that much. Walter said if the city held a public hearing on this issue, the entire room would be filled with people who have already called him complaining about the noise of these trains.
Olson said he also has received numerous complaints about the noise of the train whistles and he felt the city should at least find out how much it'll cost to conduct a feasibility study.
"Tonight doesn't cost us anything," Olson said, of passing the motion.
In another matter, Olson told the council he's received complaints from residents about deer overpopulation in the city and wondered if the city could cull the city's deer herd. He asked if the city was at the point where the deer herd needed to be culled.
"My family tries to kill them in vehicles on County Road 48. So far they've done a pretty good job," Olson joked of the deer.
Police Chief Jim Exsted said he and his staff were discussing deer vs. vehicle accidents recently and noted that there aren't as many accidents involving deer as there used to be. Fencing along Highway 371 has helped, he said.
City staff planned to gather information about culling the deer population and whether that is something the DNR would do and then report the findings back to the council.
The council learned that many dead or dying oak trees at Whipple Beach will be harvested by the Crow Wing County Land Department this fall and a mixture of red and white pines will be replanted in this area in the spring. The city leases the land from the county but the timber within that property is still managed by the county.
The council requested that staff check with Dean Makey of the DNR and ask him if there was any chance the dying oak trees could be saved. Walter told the council the trees were dying because of drought the past few years.
The city of Baxter will celebrate "National Night Out" from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Baxter City Park. Registration will begin at 5 p.m. with a kiddie parade at 5:30 p.m. All children under 12 are welcome to participate. Children are encouraged to dress up and decorate their bicycles or wagons. Prizes will be awarded to the two best entries.
Other activities include a K9 demonstration at 6 p.m., activities to do while wearing DWI goggles, taser demonstrations, karate demonstrations, face painting, live music and free root beer floats. The Baxter Lion's Club will have hamburgers, chips and pop for sale at the concession stand. The event is free and sponsored by the Baxter Police Department and co-sponsored by the Baxter Lions.
Exsted said residents will be able to register their bicycles Tuesday night. The police department has just started a bicycle registration program to provide residents with the opportunity to register and hopefully reunite with their lost or stolen bicycles if a theft occurs. There is no charge for this crime prevention program.
Exsted reported that the department has received more than $10,000 in donations for its K9 program. This includes recent donations of $500 by the Brainerd Area Sertoma Club and $1,000 from Lakeland Veterinary Hospital.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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