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Council decides: Sculpture stays, hardware goes

<i>Journal file photo</i>

The City Council approved some spending Tuesday night but drew the line at paying an estimated $7,000-$10,000 to move the Veterans Park sculpture from its current location to City Hall near the flag poles.

Council Member Tom Caflisch said as an active member of the Legion, he's aware that most local veterans don't understand the connection between the park and the colorful sculpture. He said had City Hall been built at the time the Richard Taylor sculpture was placed in 2007, it would have been placed there.

Caflisch said nobody finds fault with the artwork, just its location. According to a related memorandum, he and Council Member Randy Kusilek had asked for estimates of what a move would cost and discussion about it.

Council Member Christopher Gagne disagreed, saying many different types of activities go on in the downtown Main Street park, along with honoring veterans. He pointed out that a group of taxpayers had worked hard to make the sculpture possible for all.

"I think it is a great location for that art piece," Gagne said.

Council Member David Cronk clarified the discussion: "It's not degrading the art, it is just finding the best place for it."

Kusilek said after finding out what it would cost to move it, he decided against that.

Kusilek estimated it could cost $10,000 to remove the sculpture, repair the hole, dig or possibly blast a new hole and create a new base. He pointed out that the city neither paid for the sculpture nor its installation.

Council Member David Reese asked what it would cost to change the name of the park and move the veterans' monument stone in it to the memorial at Greenwood Cemetery, which wasn't built in 2005 when Veterans Park was rehabilitated and renamed.

Council Member Jim Nordgren acknowledged that the Greenwood Memorial pays "great tribute" to veterans but didn't see the need to move the monument stone.

"I could see it being named City Park instead of Veterans Park," said Nordgren. "I can't see moving the art, we're kind of used to it being there now."

When the votes were voiced, at least five of the seven council members said no -- don't move the sculpture.

Yes to hardware software, survey

The City Council asked many questions first but agreed to spend about $254,000 immediately for the first phase - financials and accounting - of a citywide enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The council agreed in concept to adapting the entire system, over time and in phases, that would eventually pull all the city's back- and front-end functions into one non-redundant system.

An implementation schedule accompanying the proposal mentions future phases for payroll and HR and community assets/permitting, but no costs are listed in reference to those phases except a chart showing an "annualized cost of $55,000 per year over 10 years."

A memorandum about the system says, "A determination on which of these modules to move ahead can be made during the budget process." Finance Director and Assistant City Administrator Julie Bergstrom said future phases of the software implementation would be subject to Council approval.

The council also authorized Tuesday spending $84,000 to replace computer servers dated 2005-2009 and reaching the end of their warranty life.

After discussion about the merits of conducting River Falls' first-ever comprehensive citizen survey, the council OK'd spending $10,000 for a national firm to scientifically poll 1,200 selected at random this spring.

The deal also allows River Falls access to the firm's database of other survey results. All on the council except Kusilek voted yes for the survey.