Several homeowners are fed up with the growing deer population in New Richmond and they're looking for help.

Several city residents attended the regular meeting of the New Richmond City Council June 15 asking officials to institute a deer feeding ban in the community.

Jay Wolf said the local deer herd has caused significant damage to trees and shrubs over the past couple years. He estimates the damage in his own yard at about $1,000.

"What was cute a few years ago has become a real problem for us," he said.

A previous community where Wolf lived brought in sharpshooters to help scale back the herd. There was also a food embargo instituted to encourage the deer to move on.

Wolf asked the council to make it illegal to feed deer in New Richmond. He also asked that residents who feed birds place their feeders five feet or higher to discourage deer from eating that food source.

Aldermen Ron Volkert and Kirk Van Blaircom suggested the city investigate what other communities do to keep the deer damage to a minimum.

"We need to find out what works," Van Blaircom said. "It's a problem for a lot of people. There's quite a few (deer) out there."

Mayor Fred Horne wanted to dispel any rumors that the city was planning to cut back on the deer herd.

"We're not planning on shooting deer," he said. "We're not planning on poisoning deer."

Horne noted that there is a growing bear problem in the community as well, and steps may need to be taken to curb that situation as well.

The council will review the issue at its regular July meeting after some research is completed.

In other business:

  • The council approved its payment schedule for the $445,410 the city owes for its portion of the new ambulance garage project. The first half of the payment will be due within a month or so, and the second payment will be made in January 2012.
  • Horne reported that the city has appealed a court decision related to the alleged impact of noise and other impacts on three homeowners near New Richmond Regional Airport.
  • Long-time city police officer Tim Kufus has accepted a position with the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department, leaving an opening on the local force. But the council agreed to wait on filling the position until after a committee is formed to evaluate the post.

"In these tough economic times, we should take a look at it and see it's necessary," Volkert said. He suggested the position costs local taxpayers $80,000 to $90,000 a year.

"If we have to fill it, fine," he commented. "But if we can get around it and save the taxpayers some dollars..."

  • The city continues to work with Presbyterian Homes of Minnesota on the proposed expansion project at The Deerfield. City Planning and Community Development Director Robert Barbian said the organization hopes to finance the project through the sale of bonds, which would be facilitated by the city. The borrowing would not impact the city's debt levels and New Richmond taxpayers would not be responsible for the bonds in any way, he noted.
  • The council approved $2,500 to support the Stillwater Bridge Coalition and its efforts to lobby for the construction of a new crossing.

Coalition Executive Director Mike Wilhelmi spoke about the coalition's efforts so far and asked for support from communities in western Wisconsin.

Proponents of the bridge need to remain aggressive, he said, even though the political atmosphere appears to be turning in favor of the new span.

Horne agreed. "There is a narrow window to make this happen," he said.

Van Blaircom said the city has identified the bridge as a key component of future economic development. That's why it's important to support the coalition's effort, he said.

"You can't measure the value this will bring to our citizens and our city," Van Blaircom said.

"We need to step up and make that investment," Horne said. "I know we hate spending money, but I think it would be a good investment to get this passed."

  • The council re-allocated $50,000 in its street budget to puliverize and re-pave Monette and Hagen streets this summer. The funding was set aside to upgrade High Street this year, but matching funds from Lakeside Foods didn't materialize, so that project is being delayed, said Dan Koski, city engineer and streets superintendent.