Indoor play area possibly coming to Isanti

The former Isanti Family Pathways Thrift Store, which closed about a month ago, is hoped to be converted into an indoor playground.

If everything goes according to plan, kids in Isanti and the surrounding area will have a place to burn off their energy, especially when the weather isn’t conducive for outdoor play.

During the July 7 Isanti City Council meeting, the council approved a conditional use permit allowing commercial recreation in the Central Business Zoning District.

Scott Boecker would like to use the former Family Pathways Thrift Store building for an indoor playground and fitness center for children. The business will be called “My Jungle Gym,” and will include playground structures, inflatables, a climbing wall, an obstacle course, and a toddler area.

Council takes different steps for nuisance buildings

Isanti County Public Health will be issuing an order regarding 207 Richard Avenue in the City of Isanti. Once the letter is received, city staff will be working on the next steps with the city attorney regarding the next steps to be taken.

Mayor Jeff Johnson explained, “The police department ended up closing down a methamphetamine house at that address, which now is being deemed a public health risk. Hopefully the county health department takes care of that issue so and we can push this along so we can rest easy on Richard Avenue.”

The public hearing for the abatement of property at 105 Railroad Avenue was postponed to the Aug. 5 Isanti City Council meeting. 

A wall on the building collapsed in Spring 2019, and permit to complete repairs was taken out in Aug. 2019. Building permits are valid for 180 days, and remain valid as long as visible progress is being made, explain Community Development Director Sheila Sellman.

The city council called for a public hearing regarding the abatement of the building at its June 16 meeting. Following a public hearing, if the council chose to abate the building, it could then complete the repairs to the building and assess the cost back to the property owner. The estimated cost to repair the building is $16,343, according to Sellman.

City Council Member Steve Lundeen made the motion to postpone the public hearing, noting that he has been to the property and spoken to the owners and progress is being made as quickly as possible. However, the extremely hot weather the last couple of weeks has hindered progress.

Johnson was reluctant to grant relief to the property owners, noting that it has been nearly a year since the permit was pulled to repair the wall on the building that collapsed, and the repairs the building still are not complete.

The property owners were in attendance at the meeting, and explained the process of repairing the building has taken longer than intended due to finding additional areas on the roof that needed to be repaired.

They explained they have been working with a structural engineer and the city’s building inspector to ensure that the repairs are creating a structurally sound building. 

“I’m OK with giving them a month, but I sure hope to God you two that that’s done in a month,” Johnson said. 

The property owners were encouraged to continue communicating with the city regarding the progress of repairing the building.

Coronavirus funds

The City of Isanti received $454,377 in CARES Act funding from the federal government, according to City Administrator Josi Wood. The council approved a policy regarding how to use that money.

Wood explained the money can be used for COVID-19-related expenses incurred by the city between March 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020. The money can only be used for expenses that were not included in the city’s 2020 budget, she added.

Some of the eligible expenditures for the city include technology upgrades to allow for telecommuting for staff working from home, testing for COVID-19, disinfectant supplies, and medical supplies.

Any money not spent by the city is given to the county to see if the funds can be used at that level. Any funds not spent at the city and county level will be returned to the federal government, Wood explained.

Zoning ordinance amended

The council approved a zoning ordinance amendment to create an R-1 zone for properties south of Palomino larger than one acre.

The new zone is needed to allow properties annexed by the city in recent years similar use as before annexation.

The new zone allows those properties to have unpaved driveways, and allows for up to seven vehicles, trailers or recreational vehicles to be parked outside.

The city also amended two other ordinances, one regarding fencing and the other regarding accessory structures.

Rum River Rods Summer Spectacular

The council approved a special event permit for Rum River Rods Sumer Spectacular to take place in downtown Isanti Aug. 8. 

The event is expected to draw 300-400 people to downtown Isanti, and includes a vender fair and swap meet.

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