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Willmar resident cites lack of communication with City Council

WILLMAR -- During the Willmar City Council's open forum Monday night, resident Laura Becker expressed her frustration with communication between herself and council members and other officials.

Also, she wanted to know the status of options for storm water relief in southwest Willmar.

Becker said the council in January directed city staff to evaluate the areas of 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest for storm water project options and to report the findings to the council in June.

Becker, who has been attending council and committee meetings for many months, inquired about the status of the options.

She asked why only one council member acknowledged the e-mail she had sent to Mayor Les Heitke, all eight council members and city staff in March about the status of the options.

Heitke said he understood that Becker and her husband are angry with the city and said he believed the couple filed a lawsuit against the city over flood damage that occurred in August 2007.

Becker, however, said she has not filed a lawsuit against the city.

Heitke asked City Attorney Rich Ronning if Becker's statement was true, and Ronning said yes.

"Then I apologize for that statement,'' he said. "When people file a lawsuit against the city, we have to be very careful in our communications back to those that file lawsuits. I was under the impression you had sued the city.''

Becker said simply saying "thank you" for the e-mail was common courtesy.

"There is a problem with communications in the city of Willmar,'' she said.

Resident John Sullivan, a frequent open forum contributor, offered suggestions for the city's Web site and suggested improvements and updates for boards and commissions. Heitke closed Sullivan's comments after 10 minutes.

Also, resident Chuck Stiles asked the council to consider allowing the legal use of electric golf carts on city streets as an alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. Heitke suggested Stiles attend the next Public Works/Safety Committee meeting on June 10 when Police Chief Jim Kulset could discuss the suggestion.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150