Highlighting a difficult year to highlight, Mayor Matt Brenk delivered his 13th State of the City address to the first 2021 regular meeting of the city council at the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

During the address, Brenk praised each city department for their accomplishments during the year and addressed high profile projects, like the new waste treatment facility and runway/taxiway project at the Detroit Lakes - Becker County Airport, in an effort to show the community the progress the city has made in one of the most difficult years in recent memory.

"Detroit Lakes continues to remain fiscally sound and has done so in spite of the drastic reductions in Local Government Aid over the past 20 plus years and in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Brenk. "I want to take this opportunity to thank all our staff for meeting those challenges and continuing to provide excellent service to the community."

Brenk also said opening of the new police department facility is on schedule and the local option sales tax used to fund the building was so successful the bond is scheduled to be paid off in fall 2023, more than four years ahead of schedule.

Private and housing development had another "solid" year in 2020, he said, accounting for $28 million in new building permits, which led to 35 new single-family homes constructed during the year.

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"I urge the City Council members, and interested citizens, to review the various year-end reports from our city departments, copies of which can be obtained from City Hall upon request," said Brenk.

He concluded his speech with a preview of what to expect in the year ahead.

Brenk highlighted the early conceptual designs, and cost estimates, for the Washington Avenue Ballpark renovations that are expected for review by the City Council in early 2021. Similarly, he said he was looking forward to continued discussions with the Food Pantry Board of Directors, and Becker County officials, about a new facility for the Becker County Food Pantry, which will have more information presented to the council "in the coming months."

He also said two large road construction projects are scheduled to begin this year. One such project, along West Lake Drive from Legion Road to County Road 6 and West Willow Street, has been mired by litigation in recent months. The other, the Frazee Street, Willow Street and Holmes Street improvement project, is scheduled to begin during the summer, but also faces public assessment hearings in the spring.

After the meeting, Brenk said, "We have a really vibrant city here, and yeah, the pandemic slowed some things down and made the challenges greater than normal, but we have such a vibrant, growing city, I just think we're able to just work through things and our city staff did a tremendous job and everybody, sort of, got on board with doing what they had to do to keep everything going."