Purchase agreement to be contingent on FEMA grant money
By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - With some resistance, the Cokato City Council approved the purchase of the land for the proposed public safety building contingent on FEMA grant money.
Two land offers were on the table for the proposed public safety building:
• East 7th Street, $247,500 for 82,000 square feet ($3 a square foot), owned by Greg Holt.
• The corner of West 1st Street and Century Avenue, $192,500 for 50,000 square feet ($3.85 a square foot), owned by Sue Keskey.
With the grant favoring shovel-ready projects, Council Member Wayne Murphy suggested the Holt property was more prepared than the Keskey land, since more dirt would have to be removed there than at Holt’s property.
Murphy suggested obtaining soil boring samples and asked how long it would take. Ken Bakke, public works, said that it would take about a week to get the results back.
The council noted the Holt property being larger, was more expensive than the Keskey property, though less per square foot.
Murphy told the council Holt would sell any amount of the land for $3 a square foot.
Murphy brought to the table three other properties he wanted the council to consider including:
• Four acres on County Road 3, north of Highway 12, owned by Rich and Heather Hasty.
• Lots two and three in Trailstone, east of Highway 12, owned by Todd Johnson.
• The former Cokato Implement/John Deere building along Highway 12.
With a July 10 deadline for the project to be considered for the FEMA grant, the council decided there wasn’t enough time to check out any other properties.
Fire Chief Mike Holmquist told the council that the department recommended the Keskey property, since it was zoned commercial, not industrial or residential.
There were also reservations about firefighters driving fast on 7th Street, as well as the new restaurant near the site.
Holmquist added that the property location has been fought over for the past two years, and city was running out of time.
Looking at the numbers they had in front of them, Council Member Gordy Erickson made a motion in favor of the purchase of the Keskey property, seconded by Council Member Carl Harju. The motion passed 4-1 with Murphy against it.
Council Member Butch Amundsen informed the council that there was enough money in the city’s revolving construction fund for the purchase of the land, leaving a balance of $130,000.
The council voted that it would contribute 25 percent toward the project, which would be $450,000 of the expected $1.8 million project, because it enhances the grant request if there is some community participation, as noted by Dean Perry, public safety committee representative.
Murphy abstained from the vote and later said it was because he felt 25 percent wasn’t enough to get the grant and that “we should be able to provide more as citizens.”
The council was presented with several financial options bonds through Ehlers and Associates, the city’s financial advisor; and private placements through State Bank of Cokato and First National Bank of Cokato.
Amundsen asked Perry how long the interest rate of 6.5 percent for a 10-year loan would be good.
Perry told him the rate would be good through September and that the numbers were meant to be “a ballpark figure” for the council.
It was noted that the purchase agreement for the land would be contingent on receiving the grant money so the city wouldn’t be stuck with undeveloped land if the grant money was not received. Notification of the grant could be as early as September 2009 or as late as September 2010, according to Perry.
The council also approved RJ Marco as the design and construction management firm in a future public safety project.
The staff was also directed to contact the city attorney, Kennedy and Graven, for drafting of the land purchase agreement.
In the meantime, JoAnn Faust will begin writing the grant application with the help of city employees.