June 25, 2007

Winsted council wants to take historic city hall back

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Winsted City Council’s plans to reclaim the historic city hall fell through and its frustration was evident as the council reviewed the details at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Although no one at the council meeting had witnessed Todd Colonna’s visit to his historic city hall building in the last 60 days, Colonna told City Attorney Fran Eggert in a phone conversation earlier in the day, he had been working on the city hall recently.

Previous to the phone call, Winsted’s City Council held a special meeting where it agreed to take steps to use a reverter clause in an October, 2001 purchase agreement between Todd and Kelly Colonna and the city reverting ownership of the building back to the City of Winsted.

The council was able to use the clause because it appeared that the Colonnas had not done any work on the historic building in 60 days. Todd’s phone call caused Eggert to question the city’s next move.

The Colonnas have not complied with the council’s April 3 request to give monthly status reports on progress made to the building’s restoration. As of June 19, not one report has been made by the Colonnas.

The lower level of the old city hall building has been completed, but not rented as the city would like to see.

The Colonnas currently are living in Florida and they have been hard to reach by people who have been interested in renting the building.

The second level still needs extensive work done to it.

The city council agreed unanimously that Eggert would send another certified letter to the Colonnas stating:

• that the City is demanding a construction schedule for work to be completed on the historic city hall,

• that the city of Winsted is invoking its reverter for $1 or a fair price,

• that the City of Winsted be involved in the decision of what type of business is allowed to lease the lower level of the historic city hall,

• and that Eggert determine if the Colonnas have been in compliance with the historic city hall contract they have with the City of Winsted. Financing plan for the City Center

New funding options for the proposed city center and lakefront promenade were reviewed by the council.

The city is able to fund the city hall and lakefront promenade using a combination of a capital improvement bond, a lease revenue bond, an equipment certificate, inner-fund loan from the general fund, and some budget cuts.

City Administrator Brent Mareck said, “using the existing estimated costs for the project, including the costs associated with the new public works building, the entire project is expected to be funded without a property tax increase.”

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 3 at 6 p.m. to consider the issuance of general obligation capital improvement bonds for the city hall project.

A referendum is still possible, if 5 percent of the registered voters petition the city within 30 days of the public hearing.

Update on McLeod County Road 1

During the open forum portion of the meeting, Winsted resident and business owner Lenora Kubasch asked if there were any updates regarding McLeod County Road 1.

Mareck said that MnDOT had met with Police Chief Mike Henrich and Council Member Bonnie Quast that afternoon. MnDOT’s recommendation was to keep the speed limit 45 miles per hour along the county road.

Mareck added that he had not received the report in writing as of the meeting time.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• approved allowing the police department to place an advertisement in the Minnesota Police Officer Opportunity Line for hiring one additional full-time officer.

Officer Jeremiah Jesson has been given a conditional offer of employment with the City of Medina. It is anticipated that he will be accepting the offer.

• approved the plans and specifications, as presented by SEH for the 2007 turf rehabilitation project at the Winsted Municipal Airport.

The total cost of the project is $475,000, of which $451,250 is to be funded by the FAA. The city is responsible for $23,750.

• approved a proposal from the A.T. Group for short-term and long-term disability and life insurance; and an increase in the minimum life insurance for employees from $10,000 to $30,000 at approximately a 15 percent savings in premiums.

• approved a water and sanitary sewer system tap be extended for Gospel Mission of India/Machelle Norling, located at Pontas Point, for one year, to June 30, 2008, but all tap fees must be paid immediately.

The extension was asked for because the house is to be torn down and a new one built.

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