The Merrill Common Council on Tuesday approved the city purchase of the former Merrill Pavers property at 2101 Logan Ave.
The property is located in TID No. 9 and is eligible for 30% Idle Site grant funding. The city has a written sale agreement to purchase the property for $30,000 from its current owners. Another $20,000 would be budgeted for demolition of the existing structure on the site.
The two-acre property is located directly east of the former Anson-Gilkey site, which is owned by the city. Potential acquisition and demolition of this property was included in an Idle Sites grant that the city was awarded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. That award helped fund demolition work on the former Page Milk and Anson-Gilkey properties.
The grant would fund $15,000 of the Merrill Pavers acquisition and demolition costs, with the remaining $35,000 charged to TID No. 9.
Acquiring the property would add to the city’s buildable acreage, along with the Anson-Gilkey land, and eliminate a blighted building, City Administrator Dave Johnson noted. It would also allow for additional eastward extension of the River Bend Trail, Johnson added.
The council also approved the creation of a drug investigator position in the Merrill Police Department, accomplished with a restructuring of the department that would retain the current number of officers.
During a Personnel and Finance Committee meeting, incoming Police Chief Corey Bennett explained how the restructuring would work.
“Ken’s (Police Chief Neff) retirement would normally trigger upward movement with department personnel,” explained Bennett. “The idea here would be to create two patrol captain positions rather than fill the Administrative Captain position. We would then use the vacant Administrative Captain position to create a Drug Investigator position.”
As Bennett further explained, the two current day-shift Lieutenant positions would be elevated to the Patrol Captain positions.
The investigator position would then be filled via promotion from within the department. The position would also entail a pay increase, the amount of which depending on the officer selected.
The restructuring and new position were approved on a one-year trial basis. If at any point in the next year, the position becomes problematic or proves ineffective, the restructuring would revert back to its present form and an Administrative Captain would be appointed.
In other business Tuesday night, the council approved acceptance of a $30,408 grant from the Recreational Trails program and a $83,342 grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, both for funding expansion of the River Bend Trail.
The council also approved a three percent increase in water and sewer fees for 2017 and the appointment of Paul Russell to the Police and Fire Commission.