EDA and engineering firm in legal conflict
The Tuesday, June 12 meeting of the Cook County – Grand
Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) was the last for Director
Matt Geretschlaeger and it started with a closed session to discuss
potential litigation. The EDA’s attorney Baiers Heeren said it was
his opinion that the meeting could be closed in accordance with
Minnesota Open Meeting law to discuss a summons received by the EDA
from Short, Elliot, Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH).
When the meeting reconvened, a unanimous motion passed to authorize
Heeren to submit the potential litigation to the League of Minnesota
Cities for review. The EDA board said the matter could not be
discussed further at this time.
In 2006, the EDA became embroiled in a dispute with the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), KGM Contractors Inc. and Short,
Elliot, Hendrickson (SEH) over alleged construction violations at the
Cedar Grove Business Park.
In August 2010, Director Geretschlaeger reported that the dispute had
been settled. He said the MPCA had released the EDA from all
complaints and confirmed that the business park was in compliance with
MPCA regulations. At that time, Geretschlaeger told the board that KGM
Construction paid the MPCA fines, which according to a letter from
Lisa Thorvig of the MPCA totaled $40,000. KGM also completed projects
totaling $80,000 and paid $14,000 of the EDA’s legal fees from
environmental attorney Kenneth Podpeskar of Minneapolis. SEH was also
to pay a share of the attorney’s fees.
The EDA board would not confirm whether or not the potential
litigation is a continuation of that matter. However at the May 8 EDA
meeting at which it was announced that Geretschlaeger’s employment
would be ending, he told the EDA that he would be available to finish
up matters such as the legal wrangling related to Cedar Grove Business
Changes for housing coordinator?
EDA Board Member Mike Littfin suggested that it is time for the EDA to
reconsider how its housing program is administrated. He noted that
Nancy Grabko of Community Fundraising Solutions (CFS) worked for both
Cook and Lake County for four years. The partnership with Lake County
ended last year, so Grabko’s contract was basically cut in half, said
Littfin. Littfin asked if the EDA should bring the position “in-
house,” to establish an EDA housing position versus a contracted
position. “We’re at kind of a turning point because we’re looking
at hiring a new director,” said Littfin.
EDA Board Member Bruce Martinson said the matter should be left to the
EDA personnel committee. He said that committee will be looking at the
EDA director applications and how the office is staffed depends on who
is hired. EDA Chair Mark Sandbo said eight applications had been
received for the director position.
Nancy Grabko of CFS said, “We’ve committed to being here and
helping out during this transition.”
At the end of the meeting, the board expressed appreciation to
Geretschlaeger for his hard work. He is leaving the EDA to pursue a
private business enterprise, Superior Zip Lines Grand Marais.