If you’re looking to find the next great “treasure” on city property in Isanti, you are now allowed to do so.
During the Isanti City Council meeting Feb. 2, the council approved a metal detecting policy and waiver for those who wish to metal detect on city-owned property. A waiver and release must be signed and given to city staff before anyone can metal detect on city-owned property.
As part of the city policy, the person doing the metal detecting must agree to follow the code of ethics of the Minnesota metal detecting group. The policy will include a list of the 11 rules that must be followed. As part of the policy, it also states that anything found of historical or monetary significance must be presented to the city first, who will have the first right of refusal.
As part of the waiver, it states the person will “agree to follow all state and federal laws including but not limited to not detecting on or near any sacred area or area having archaeological importance.”
The waiver also states: “I understand and agree that neither the city nor any person acting on behalf of the city, may be held liable in any way for any event which occurs in connection with this activity which may result in harm, death, injury or other damage to me. This waiver of liability does not waive liability for any injuries that I obtain as the result of willful, wanton or intentional misconduct by the city or any person acting on behalf of the city.”
John Oliver, of Stacy, metal detects often, and spoke in favor of the city passing an ordinance to allow metal detecting on city property.
“Part of what we do is, we don’t get on land if we don’t ask permission,” Oliver said.
“The only fear I would have is in Legacy Park,” Mayor Jeff Johnson said. “In 2013, Legacy Park was built but there’s a lot of Native American artifacts that should not be disturbed on that land. So that would be one place I myself would say ‘no way.’ Anywhere else, I don’t see why myself this shouldn’t happen.”
Oliver said he would understand prohibiting metal detecting in Legacy Park.
“I can fully respect your position on Legacy Park and I would do the same thing, that park should be protected, whether it’s signage and word of mouth through another means through social media or otherwise,” Oliver said. “It’s nothing that we want to stumble into either.”
City Administrator Josi Wood said as part of the policy, metal detecting would be prohibited in Legacy Park, but staff will reserve the right to add other areas within the city if it’s discovered other areas have historical significance as well.
Johnson was encouraged that metal detecting people are asked to follow a code of ethics.
“I get the feel that you guys are a pretty respectful group. And here you have a Facebook group and you go by a code of ethics for metal detecting; and (that) in all honesty is flooring to me,” Johnson said.
Oliver said he didn’t want to come across as a spokesperson for metal detectors.
“Each metal detector knows that they should be an ambassador to the hobby, and if one fails that makes us all look bad,” Oliver said. “I’m not afraid of shame-based management when it comes to straightening those people up when it happens; and there’s a lot of people like that, they don’t want their own hobby ruined. But if there’s anything we can do to help you with signage or otherwise, we can help that way too.”
The metal detecting policy came about when Chris Rosemark requested permission to metal detect on city-owned property.
“It’s basically just a hobby. It keeps us busy. Now my 5-year-old son wants to do it because I’ve brought him out a couple times. It’s just something that you can do with family, friends,” Rosemark said.
Johnson said one of the council’s initial concerns, when this was discussed at the Jan. 19 meeting, was how deep metal detectors dig. He was relieved to hear it’s only 6 to 8 inches.
“We take all of our trash, and that’s what you usually find. But it’s just the thrill of getting out and finding something. Like I was happy I found some pop tabs. They were old, but it was kind of cool just to find,” Rosemark said.
Council Member Jimmy Gordon questioned the part of the waiver that states, “items of historical or monetary significance will be given to the city.” He asked if part of the purpose of metal detecting is to find something of monetary significance.
“You do, but when it comes to like something historically significant, you’d rather have it go to the city and then they can display that,” Rosemark said.
Gordon stated he felt if a metal detecting person found a watch, and after going through the channels to try to find the owner, if no one claims it, whoever found the watch should be able to keep it and sell it if they choose.
Rosemark relayed a story about how two years ago a woman lost her wedding ring in the Coborn’s parking lot. The ring had been pushed into a snow pile and he was able to find it for her and return it to her.
Wood said the city could reword the part of the policy that talks about turning in something of historical or monetary significance to instead say the city would have the first right of refusal. She said items of historical significance that the city would decide to keep would probably be put in the city’s display case at City Hall with a name tag identifying who found the item and where it was located.
“But there may be other things that no, there is no monetary value for that to the city, to the residents because it is public land, we need to keep that in mind, then if it wasn’t reported as a lost item or something like that, then we refuse the right to keep it,” Wood said.
Johnson said another concern he had was leaving holes on city property, but that concern was alleviated.
“It was another thing that I was worried about is are we going to have gopher holes. Is somebody going to walk through there and twist their ankle, but from your drawings here, you have pretty significant cut patterns and dig designs, and you try to put that land back so it’s really not disturbed,” Johnson said. “I mean, you’re pretty respectful about it.”