Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Feb. 11, 2002

Four county fair buildings may be located on city land

By Lynda Jensen

Four outbuildings located at the Wright County fairgrounds appear to be located on top City of Howard Lake land.

The issue cropped up during the Howard Lake council meeting when resident Mike Mitchell, whose family owned large chunks of land at the fairgrounds many years ago, addressed the council.

Mitchell indicated that he thought there were three roads at the fairgrounds located at the south parking lot, which may not have been vacated.

The three roads are First Street, Second Street, and 12th Avenue.

Second Street and 12th Avenue no longer exist inside the fair ground boundaries, being grassy fields where cars are parked today.

Court house records confirm that both Second Street at the fairgrounds, and 12th Avenue north of the railroad tracks, were vacated in 1992.

However, it is a different story with First Street, which is the main entrance to the fair on the southeastern side of the grounds.

First Street was originally a township road, which divided the city and Middleville Township, Mitchell said.

Half of this road was owned by the township, with the other half owned by Howard Lake, before the land was annexed by the city.

The township did not complete its half of the road, leaving the paved portion of the road only 33 feet wide, or half of its normal width, Mitchell said.

The undeveloped northern half of the road (or township half) contains 33 feet of unvacated road ­ where four out buildings at the county fair stand today.

County records from the auditor, and recorder, and abstract company that serves Wright County do not contain any records of First Street being vacated, suggesting that the 33 feet on the north side of this road belong to the city, just as the road still does.

Mitchell told the city to use this as a bargaining chip for the water tower issue, since he had been following it closely in the newspaper and felt the county was acting improperly over the water tower issue.

The council decided to conduct a workshop that would address all of the problems related to the county.

One problem of many

The unvacated road is the latest step in a series of disagreements between the city and county.

Weeks before, the county blocked access to First Street, because trucks started using the road after the city blocked off a private railroad crossing located at 11th Ave.

Trucks are using the road because they can't squeeze under the railroad viaduct at Wright County Road 6, said Dennis Beise of the fair board.

The city closed off this street to allow Pete Fisher to develop the railroad property he purchased there into residential townhomes.

When the city considered closing the street, the county strongly objected to the closing, saying that it cut off access to the fairgrounds.

However, after the city closed the railroad crossing, the problem with truck traffic surfaced, causing the county to press the city into posting "no truck traffic" signs, and to enforce the signs with its police department.

Aside from this, the city and county have knocked heads for some time about water use during the county fair.

Last year, the county presented the City of Howard Lake with an unsigned agreement concerning water usage at the fair.

The agreement gave unlimited water use at the fair, with no expiration date.

This contradicted previous resolutions passed by both the city and county in 1994 to allow five years of free water use for the county. This expired in 2000, City Administrator Doug Borglund said.

The new Howard Lake city water tower stands atop land that is owned by the county.

Most recently, county commissioners offered an agreement to pay for water service beyond 185,000 per year, but to receive water free up to that point.

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