By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN During the Tuesday, Jan. 20, meeting, the Delano City Council unanimously denied a request from a resident to designate the park-dedication fee for his property for a potential community swimming pool project.
Steve Rogers built a home at 196 Raymond Ave. SW, and is required to pay a park-dedication fee of about $3,800. Rogers requested that the fee be reserved for a potential pool project that is being researched by the Harlan Lewis Legacy Foundation.
City Administrator Phil Kern explained that park-dedication funds are typically due when the property is platted, which was a year-and-a-half ago, and the funds go toward capital needs, not operational needs, of parks.
Kern noted the unusual nature of the situation.
“Tonight’s request is a bit of an unusual circumstance,” Kern said. “Very rarely do we have individuals paying park-dedication fees. Typically, it’s a developer.”
He also shared the historical context of park-dedication fees.
“We have not, in the past, allowed a private reservation of fees like Mr. Rogers is requesting,” Kern said.
Councilmen Jack Russek and Jason Franzen expressed concern about changing that policy.
“I think we’ll have a problem if we set a precedence to vary from our policy . . . and get all kinds of requests,” Russek said.
“Although the request is good-intentioned, it does put impetus behind something that is unclear what would come of it,” Franzen added.
John Tackaberry spoke on behalf of Rogers and asked the council to consider tabling the issue until a community survey regarding the level of interest in a pool is completed.
When Mayor Dale Graunke asked where the funding for the pool project would come from, Tom Schaffer, of USAquatics, said private and public partners typically work together to fund such projects.
“Making a decision on this money for something special like that when we have other projects is tough,” Graunke said.
Councilwoman Betsy Stolfa applauded the grassroots efforts of the Harlan Lewis Legacy Foundation, but did not believe Rogers’ park-dedication fee should be specifically linked to those efforts.
“I think you guys are moving positive forward and may be a little premature on this home’s park-dedication fund,” Stolfa said. “I don’t think we should have restrictive funds on a project we don’t really have details on.”
Rogers later said he did not believe he should be charged the park-dedication fee because he was not made aware of it at the time the property was platted, but rather, more than a year later.
“Realizing that legal action would cost me more than $3,800, I thought if I’m going to pay it, I’d like to pay toward something I care about,” Rogers said. “I was hoping the city would give me some leeway since they decided to bill me a year later.
“I don’t have a problem with the fee,” Rogers continued. “I have a problem with how the city dealt with it. Billing someone after a year for services provided seems wrong and unfair.”
Rogers noted that the $3,800 fee is in addition to about $15,000 he paid to rezone the property from a condo designation to a single-family home designation because he was not aware of how the property was zoned when he purchased it.
He said he plans to explore his legal options regarding the fee.
Odds and Ends
In other business, the council:
• approved requests from Jose Gerardo and Laura Lopez, of El Molcajete Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, for an on-sale and Sunday sale liquor license and a conditional use permit for outdoor dining with a variance for the size of the outdoor dining area. City Planner Al Brixius explained several conditions for the license and permit in regards to parking and the space allotted for each table and service aisle.
• approved the purchase of a street sweeper at a price of about $184,000, compared to the budgeted number of $175,000 and a 60-inch and 72-inch mower at a combined cost of about $20,400, compared to a $27,000 budget.