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Prior Lake family hosts actor Jason Momoa and film crew

The Baas family isn’t your everyday family unit. Kevin and Amy love the freedom of riding motorcycles on the open road and spend most of their free time in their shop building vintage motorcycles from the motor up.

Their passion has led them to publishing a book, working with Harley Davidson and most recently it attracted the attention of Game of Thrones and Aquaman star Jason Momoa.

Kevin Baas first started working with Harley Davidson during his 20-plus year teaching career. While teaching at Bloomington Kennedy High School, Kevin wrote the curriculum for the school’s first-ever motorcycle building class and was recruited by Lakeville North High School to do the same a few years later. Each year he and his students would build a bike with a motor donated by Harley Davidson as their starting point.

“He’s well known in the motorcycle industry for being this teacher that gets youth involved in the love of old bikes and how to build them,” Amy said.

This summer Kevin received a call from a Harley representative letting him know he’d be getting a call from someone to start on a new project. A few minutes later Kevin’s phone began to ring with a call from an unknown number, but he declined it. When the second call came in he answered, said “not interested” and hung up thinking it was just a telemarketer.

But when the number called for a third time, Kevin answered only to be greeted by Momoa, who asked if he could come film part of his latest project on their property, Baas Acres in Prior Lake.

Behind the scenes

Momoa and his film crew spent five days at the Baas’ shooting Harley’s “United We Will Ride” campaign, which focuses on overcoming the challenges of the pandemic through riding. The series of videos are Momoa’s “articulation of finding new roads, rediscovering old ones and always enjoying the journey,” the Harley Davidson website states.

And after a few days spent with the film crew and Momoa, it felt like being with friends, Amy said.

“We were pleasantly surprised that [Momoa] was such a nice genuine person. ‘Please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘is it okay if I do this?’ Always asking for permission, always very genuine in his thankfulness, which I felt was super refreshing for someone as well known as him,” she said.

The Baas’ were never super fans of the actor, Kevin even referred to him as “Jason Mimosa” in the days leading up to his arrival, but there were a few things the family wanted to do while he was there. They gathered for a group shot in front of the Baas Acres sign and Momoa stood next to their giant measuring stick, which marks the height of the family members and visitors to their home, and signed his name next to the 6-foot 4-inch mark

“We were so excited to have this opportunity,” Amy said.

Momoa also got to check out the first motorcycle Kevin Baas ever built and found the two had another connection besides their love for vintage bikes.

Momoa thought his bike looked incredibly similar to his own first-build and Kevin said he had only featured it in his book “How to Build an Old Skool Bobber,” the book Momoa had read as he built his own first bike.

On the crews final day at Baas Acres Momoa brought the bike back to the land, having purchased it from the buyer Kevin had originally sold it too.

He pulled everyone into the shop and told the Baas’ son Gavin, 16, who shares their love for motorcycles, that he was going to gift him back his dad’s first bike in three years when he turns 19.

Momoa told Gavin the bike was an example of his dad’s passion and that he should have the opportunity to ride it, Amy said.

“Needless to say, there was mega tears everywhere — Kevin, our son, the camera crews were crying,” she said.

That means in three years, Momoa will be making his way back to Prior Lake to visit the Baas family and finish the story he started this spring.

In front of the camera

Amy Baas’ time in front of the camera was focused on her role as a woman and mother in the male dominated industry and how it brings her family closer together. She’s seen working in the shop showing her son how to weld and change a tire.

“That is our real life, that is not acting. Our kids have always known mom does everything equal to dad. There is no mom role, dad role,” Amy said. “A kid has something wrong with their car, they ask mom. If there’s something they need help with that needs fixing, I can do it too. It’s one of those things that’s second nature to me. You don’t think about it until you see it portrayed and think, there isn’t enough of that. There isn’t enough of a strong female presence in the motorcycle industry.”

Amy encouraged any female interested in motorcycles to take the leap and start riding on a bike they feel comfortable with. Confidence comes the more you ride and it’s a rewarding experience, she said.

The other short stories follow a first responder, a food service worker, a couple, an uncle and his nephew and the Baas family who have all found freedom and connection in riding.

“That’s one thing he really wanted to hit home with these little short stories was not to over dramatize them but you’re trying to portray what we feel as people in the motorcycle industry and why we love it,” Amy said.

But the pandemic has changed the motorcycle scene over the last few months. While Amy and Kevin could still go out riding, they weren’t meeting up with friends at breweries and restaurants like they did pre-pandemic.

“We found that very odd and it kind of took the fun away honestly. The non-social aspect was hard for us to get through and just the freedom of you couldn’t go somewhere whenever you wanted to and that’s not really what riding motorcycles is,” she said.

But the campaign reminds them they are all still connected through their shared passion.

“There’s so many parts to it — why you love to be in the motorcycle industry but a lot of it is camaraderie. The love for all your friends like their your family and our friends are our family,” Amy said.

To view the “United We Will Ride” series visit www.harley-davidson.com/us/en/current/lets-ride.html

Bevelyn Keith sits on her back porch admiring her pile of family photos.

Prior Lake's private street utility surcharge proposal is postponed until next year

The 1,700 Prior Lake property owners who received a flyer detailing a proposed private street utility surcharge nearly two months ago will receive another notice from the city in the next month — this time informing them the surcharge won’t go into effect for at least another six to 12 months.

During the Oct. 5 meeting of the Prior Lake City Council, staff and the council decided it was best to postpone the implementation of the surcharge until further input could be gathered from residents and various other funding options were explored.

The proposed $40 surcharge would have been included in residents’ bi-monthly utility bill and used to create a funding source to cover the cost of replacing private streets should the city need to replace the public utilities, such as sewer and water, which lie underneath them.

While the city is responsible for the cost of replacing utilities, private streets are to be owned and maintained by property owners or a homeowners’ association.

The implementation of the surcharge was meant to establish a fund and begin reserving money for the eventual replacement of private streets, City Manager Jason Wedel said.

Out of roughly 100 miles of streets in the city, 10.5 are private streets.

“Of those 10.5 miles of private streets, 2.5 miles are what I would consider being near term for needing replacement,” Wedel said. “The other 8 miles are developments that are newer and might not need it for another 30 years.”

Private streets are beneficial to developers and home buyers because more housing units can fit on a private street meaning a lower cost per unit. Private streets are beneficial to the city because these areas with a higher density of homes create a balance between areas with lower density overall keeping the city average at three housing units per acre. This average is required by the Metropolitan Council who owns the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant which is where all of Prior Lake’s wastewater runs.

But the downside to private streets, Wedel said, is that they must be maintained by property owners.

After talking with multiple HOA’s within the city, Deerfield HOA is the only one city staff has found that has been collecting for future street replacement.

According to Wedel, other HOA’s said they plan on conducting their own internal assessment, assessing residents with a lump sum upfront cost.

“That’s been interesting because I would have hoped more HOA’s were reserving for the replacement of their streets,” Wedel said. “The thought was if they did the surcharge they could reduce their HOA dues accordingly knowing that the city is now reserving money for the eventual replacement of the street.”

The council asked how other cities addressed the replacement of private streets and Wedel said Prior Lake is at the forefront. The only city he was aware of that had already addressed private street replacement was Chanhassen, who deemed utilities under private streets public utilities so any maintenance and replacement is the complete responsibility of the HOA or property owner.

Councilmember Annette Thompson suggested the city give private street residents various options such as the proposed surcharge, entering into an agreement with the city stating they will cover the costs when the time comes or that the HOA would do an inside assessment of its residents should the street need to be replaced.

While these may be good options, managing separate agreements with each HOA can be difficult to track especially in 50 years when some of the streets need to be replaced, Wedel said. Though having an agreement with Deerfield HOA may be something to consider because it’s the largest association in the city, representing three of the 10.5 miles of private streets, he added.

Other options mentioned during the meeting included calculating the surcharge without the Deerfield properties if they entered into a separate agreement; looking at funding for just the 2.5 miles of streets that will need to be replaced in the near future and coming up with a different financial model for the streets that won’t need to be replaced for another 30 odd years; and possibly entering into agreements with only the three largest HOA’s.

A public hearing on the proposed surcharge was planned for Nov. 2, so that it could be adopted with the city’s annual fee schedule, but more time for conversation is needed, the council and staff agreed.

“This year specifically with COVID and [with] our inability to hold public information meetings, to have people come in and ask about the surcharge and talk through this in the normal channels rather than just notices in the mail and website, I feel like there’s more communication that needs to happen,” Wedel said. “I would also say that there are still a number of HOA’s I would still like to work through these various options with.

Rather than making a decision at the Nov. 2 meeting, the council agreed to postpone the implementation of the surcharge.

“Hopefully COVID ends at some point so we can have some more meaningful meetings with our residents and then bring it back next year,” Wedel said. “The only downfall to that would be that’s one year less of us collecting this fee ... I think in my opinion that’s worth the cost to make sure we’re getting the input, we’re having the conversations and we have all the information for this council to make an informed decision on moving this forward or not.”

More information on the proposed private street utility surcharge can be found on the FAQ on cityofpriorlake.com.