City council members debate spending $205,000 for key parcel
By Lynda Jensen
DASSEL, MN A parcel of land situated at the ballpark in Dassel dominated discussion at the Dassel City Council meeting last Monday.
The parcel is worth $205,000, and encompasses a portion of where Red Rooster Days takes place at the 800 block of First Street; adjacent to the Dassel Museum.
The council debated merits of buying the property, which consists of 2.35 acres. The ballfield and Red Rooster activities both encroach on the property.
Mayor Mike Scanlon said the city shouldn’t be involved in such real estate deals due to liability and maintenance; as well as encroaching on private competition.
For example, if the city bought the parcel and leased part of it, he said, this would infringe on others trying to make money by renting or leasing space, too.
Council Member Bob Wilde spoke in favor of buying the property. However, he is opposed to leasing it in such a way.
Wilde pointed out that the city owns the museum. “That has a purpose,” Scanlon said.
Wilde said he was trying to establish a purpose for the parcel. He suggested an indoor skate park at one of the buildings there.
Scanlon asked who was going to man the park. “Can we afford to hire someone at the skate park?” he asked.
Council Member Bob Lalone pointed out that the same argument about competition was made when the liquor store was started up.
In the recent past, Scanlon toured the parcel and outbuildings with city building inspector Kevin Piepenberg, Wilde, and Lalone.
Aside from this, the council noted that there are costs associated with fixing what is already located on the property, even though the city wishes to eventually use it as a parking lot. It will take $34,215 to replace a roof on one building. Rotten boards also need to be replaced. Demolition of the cement building will be about $7,400, and of another smaller building is $4,200.
A May 28 deadline has been extended two weeks by the property owner and Realtor Alex Hanschen of Roseville. He is asking for $205,000, which is less than what he had listed on his web site two weeks ago.
Mustang to be raffled off during Red Rooster
Wilde reported on the Red Rooster committee action.
A vintage Mustang convertible is expected to be raffled off by the committee during Red Rooster Days, with several thousand tickets to be sold at $5 or $10 each, according to Wilde. Proceeds are expected to be used toward purchase of the parcel of land adjacent to the Red Rooster location and the Dassel Museum.
Shirts and hats will be sold during this year, the 50th anniversary. Haapala asked if the Levandowski pottery in town could supply special mugs.
It takes a while to make them, and if this is an idea that goes anywhere, it would need to be decided soon, it was observed. The decision is up to the committee.
Hojies, Thirsty’s wish to add outdoor seating
The council also discussed the issue of outdoor seating, which is being planned by both Hojies Smokehouse and Thirsty’s Tavern.
The 3.2 beer licenses are due for renewal to both businesses by June 30, and both are looking to expand their outdoor seating, Administrator Myles McGrath said.
The council decided to approve, but not actually issue the licenses until it sees the layout of the plans.
Water tower work is expected to resume
The council discussed the new water tower under construction and lack of activity there.
Wilde asked if a payment could be delayed to spur along more work. McGrath reported that the last check was cut and mailed already.
However, it was noted that the contractor was given a long period to work with, since the council was trying to attract better bids. The work isn’t required to be done until Sept. 30.
Dave Scepaniak of public works noted that strong winds have deterred the work from taking place. Work is expected to resume this week.
Concept for Corcoran plans is approved
With conditions, the council also approved the concept for plans by Mike Corcoran to develop his land along Highway 12 and Spring Lake, as well as hooking into the city’s utility system.
Corcoran wishes to upgrade his own septic system, and be able to tap into the city utilities for other units on his property. He was approved for eight housing units (a twinhome would count as two). Previously, he was approved for four units that would use septic systems, but the city expanded this to eight if all the units connect to the city’s system.
At this time, Corcoran’s own septic system doesn’t meet the current standard. He has offered to pay for the cost of bringing service to his own property, and said he was “hoping to sell one lot.”
If connected, Corcoran would likely use the manhole located by Keith Day’s property.
It was noted that having Corcoran use the city’s sanitary sewer is better than septic systems located so close to the lake.
Scanlon noted that a preliminary plat should be submitted, but Corcoran objected to this, saying he spent enough money already.
Plans for development are subject to the city engineer, with a preliminary plat being required as part of this process. This means that when the plans move forward, eventually a preliminary plat will be needed, among other things.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a claim for the museum project by Sam Hendrickson for plumbing in the amount of $12,650. The vote was 3-1, with Haapala voting against and Wilde, Lalone, and Scanlon voting in favor. Council Member Alesia Warner was not present (she is expecting).
• discussed again the plight of local government aid (LGA) from the state, which could collectively mean a half billion cut for cities across the board each year from the state, according to Scanlon. Lalone noted that property taxes were up and LGA was down. Dassel is funded based on a ratio of 32.33 percent LGA, according to McGrath.
A work session will be set to discuss the impact of the cuts. “We need to be prepared,” McGrath said. “We could have serious consequences.”
• heard from McGrath that a violations fee schedule will be made up for the parking ordinance. This will likely dictate a verbal warning and fine, rather than taking people through the court process; the latter of which is not necessarily wanted.
• talked briefly about reviving the Economic Development Authority, which was used as a vehicle to finance the nursing home years ago, when it was first established in town. McGrath suggested reorganizing it, and giving it a new name.
Wilde said it wasn’t the time to “fold in like a turtle,” in the current economic state. “We need to spur development,” he said.
It was noted that the Dassel Development Corporation is a private entity.