By Joel Stottrup
Leaflets distributed in a housing development along Little Elk Lake in Baldwin Township on Monday, followed by some signs stuck in the ground hours later, created a flurry of concern in the Elk Lake area.
The leaflets, which Baldwin resident Elaine Philippi has admitted to distributing, stated that the Baldwin board of supervisors would be conducting a workshop that day, July 9, to discuss the possibility of “creating a Subordinate Services District to fix your roads with the homeowners being assessed for a portion of it.”
Philippi said she distributed the flyers because she felt the Subordinate Services District was an important issue that residents should hear about — and residents rarely attend Baldwin meetings.
Philippi says she didn’t know the meeting had been cancelled by the Board six days earlier.
The meeting was cancelled because Supervisor Tom Rush would not able to attend the workshop, according to Baldwin Township Clerk Cathy Stevens and Township Board Chair Jay Swanson.
The cancellation notice was immediately posted on the bulletin board at Marv’s True Value, placed on the town hall and put on the township’s website, according to Swanson.
Stevens noted that the workshop’s original agenda was to discuss the town hall’s open hours which are 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
The June 4 Baldwin meeting minutes state that the board that day set up a workshop for July 9 starting at 7 p.m. “regarding township staffing and possible Elk Lake Estates Subordinate Service District.”
Good acknowledged on Tuesday that she had added the Subordinate Services District topic to the workshop agenda. But she emphasized that her intention was only to discuss the concept of possibly having subordinate services districts in general in the township and was not targeting Elk Lake Estates.
It’s “unfortunate” that the minutes came out that way, focusing on Elk Lake Estates, she said.
“It’s a bunch of bunk,” is how Board Chair Swanson described the distribution of the flyers. He said the flyers just “riled people up,” when the Baldwin supervisors are only looking to see what would be the most equitable way of funding road repair and upgrade in situations of a limited number of residents benefiting.
Good agreed and both she and Swanson on Tuesday talked about the subject of equity and road upgrades.
The two talked about an old housing development in Baldwin along Sherburne County Road 45 where a half mile, L-shaped roadway has deteriorated. So much so that the old asphalt will have to be ground up and new pavement laid at a cost of $80,000 to $90,000, according to Swanson. Swanson and Good pointed out that the seven-lot development has only three occupied homes and questioned if all of Baldwin’s taxpayers should foot all of that road bill.
Swanson explained that as long as the board would be talking about that one particular development, Elk Lake Estates could be included in the discussion on the concept of Subordinate Services Districts.
Meanwhile, the leaflets and signs that went up near residents at Little Elk Lake apparently created confusion.
Jerry Gloe, who lives along the shore of Little Elk Lake, talked about the impression he formed when he saw the leaflets about the workshop, and then hours later saw the signs stating the workshop meeting was cancelled.
“It just reeked of something being done under the table,” he said, explaining that it gave the impression that once people were informed of the workshop,the town board cancelled it. Gloe had not known the meeting was cancelled six days before.
Baldwin Clerk Stevens said the person distributing the leaflets should have checked the township website first before distributing leaflets.
Swanson and Good both said they welcome the public’s attendance at their workshops. Swanson also stated that, according to the township’s regulations, it cannot take actions such as pass motions during its workshops. It can reach a consensus and that’s all, he said.
“It’s the people’s town. It is the people’s money,” Good said, adding that the township is trying to stretch its road and bridge budget as far as possible.
Gloe already has his input ready. He said he feels he is already taxed higher than other kinds of properties and that he has paid his “fair share of taxes.” He also said he does not want to pay for paving a gravel road that would lead up to his gravel driveway.
So when will the workshop be rescheduled? Stevens said the township board could decide that on Tuesday, July 17.