Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 17, 2001

Fair board enters county-city squabble over water tower

By John Holler

The Wright County Fair Board discussed its new, unwanted, role in an ongoing dispute over the new Howard Lake water tower during the county board meeting Tuesday.

The board indicated it felt caught between the county and the City of Howard Lake over the issue, and hoped that increased communication would be the answer.

Members of the fair board wanted to add their perspective to the issue, which centers on a disagreement over a contract for the city to construct a water tower on fairgrounds property.

The contract was a verbal agreement made between a former city council and the county. Tensions flared up over the past six months when the county attempted to get a written contract signed of the verbal agreement.

To no one's surprise, both parties had different ideas about what was agreed upon.

The two sides have grown more adamant about their positions over recent months and the fair board cited an Internet article on the Howard Lake-Waverly Herald website, which printed a letter sent to the county in its entirety at the request of the city council.

The fair board disputed a number of items, including the city's contention that the county fair is a county function.

The fair board is a separate entity, and does not figure into the cost of sewer and water service not being charged by the city, board members said.

The fair board presented the county board with a list of 18 positive aspects of the fairgrounds for the City of Howard Lake and asked that the county understand that the fair board is caught in the middle of the debate.

Commissioner Dick Mattson asked fair board members to make a similar presentation to the city council, but, as far as reaching any agreement over the water tower issue, it would seem neither side is willing to budge - which the county says is the fault of changing personnel two years ago on the Howard Lake city council.

"The agreement we reached was that if we let Howard Lake build a water tower there, we would get free sewer and water for the fair," Commissioner Jack Russek said. "Unfortunately, a lot of the people who negotiated the contract for the city are gone and it looks like (their replacements) have changed their minds."

The board was scheduled to discuss the matter in committee Dec. 12, but no progress was expected to be made.

It was noted by board members that no certificate of accident liability for the water tower or certificate of insurance has been secured, which would protect both the county and city in the event of accident at the site. The insurance is hampered by the lack of a contract.


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