Cambridge hoping for grant money for portable emergency operations

What would happen if some sort of disaster took place that rendered Cambridge City Hall, along with Cambridge Fire Hall and Police Station (which are all housed in the same building), inaccessible? How would the city communicate emergency management if say a train derailed right behind City Hall, or possibly a tornado struck the building? These are all questions the city is addressing as they apply for a $10,000 grant from the National League of Cities through its Community Resilience (LCR) grant program.

According to Assistant City Administrator Evan Vogel, money from this grant would be used for the purchase of five Microsoft Surface computers, a portable color printer, a portable projector, a portable locking storage cabinet to house the software, plus additional materials. These items would be housed somewhere outside City Hall, such as the library.

“If awarded, this would be an immediate upgrade to the city’s emergency response capabilities,” Vogel told the council. “Additionally, it would provide the ability to run emergency response drills off-site, under the assumption that City Hall was inaccessible.”

Vogel said the cost of these items would be approximately $7,000. The remaining $3,000 would go towards an electric vehicle charging unit that could be placed somewhere such as City Park for people to utilize for charging their electric-powered cars. Vogel also admitted to the council that based on previous winners of the grant, including some sort of environmentally friendly project would greatly increase the chances of the city winning the grant.

While none of the council objected to the portable emergency operations command station, council member Bob Shogren questioned the need to include the EV station.

“Would it hurt our chances of receiving the grant if we took out the EV station?” Shogren asked.

Vogel said he couldn’t say with complete certainty if it would decrease their chances, but it would make the grant application far less impactful by omitting one of the main components of the grant. Additionally, since the grant application required a specific listing of what the money would be spent on, he would have to come up with another project to spend the remaining $3,000 on, which wouldn’t be possible considering the deadline was in two days. 

Despite that, Shogren initially made a motion to approve the grant, but omit the EV station, mainly because there are one or two businesses in town that offer an EV station, and he doesn’t believe the city should be introducing a service that directly competes with an existing business’ service. That motion died due to a lack of a second. A subsequent motion to approve the grant application as presented was passed by a 4-1 vote, with Shogren casting the lone no vote.

City annexes single property

Citing an oversight the last time the city council approved annexing several “islands” (land that is part of a Township but is completely surrounded by land that is part of the city) in 2017, Community Development Director Marcia Westover presented the council a request to annex a property at 2288 343rd Ave. NE, which is actually a residence within Cambridge Opportunity Industrial Park.

As part of the annexation process, a public hearing needed to take place, at which time both the owners of the property and a representative of Cambridge Township voiced their opposition to the annexation.

“I’m not happy about this,” said Dave Carlson, who owns the property. “If the city wants to sit down and talk to me about buying my place, that’s fine.”

“This is our home,” said Dave’s wife, Deb. “I don’t understand why you’re taking our home away from us.”

Following the public hearing, council member Shogren, sensing there was some confusion regarding what annexing a property entails, said, “I just want to clear up that the city is not taking the property. The property still belongs to the Carlsons.”

A motion to annex the property, which essentially means the property would now be officially within the city limits and receive city services while paying city taxes instead of taxes to Cambridge Township, was approved unanimously.

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