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Blue Earth may add land for industry

August 21, 2012
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth City Council was asked Monday to think about a new industrial park.

Linsey Warmka, director of Faribault County Development Corporation, said the city's Economic Development Authority has proposed building an industrial park on 66 acres at the northwest corner of Interstate 90 and Highway 169. There is room for expansion in the area, she added.

A 20-square foot steel incubator building would cost an estimated $1.1 million. The cost would rise if it was bigger or made of concrete.

Warmka said to buy the land, construct the spec building and pay other expenses would cost $6.5 million, but the project could be done in stages. Phase one would cost $2.5 million, she said, while a grant could be obtained to pay for 60 percent of the cost. That would leave the city's cost at $1 million.

The next steps are to begin annexation of the land, finalize engineering and site preparation costs, organize neighborhood meetings, and obtain matching funds for the city, Warmka said. She added construction would not start until the grant is in hand.

"This is so exciting for me. I feel we can get this done," said Warmka, who noted she has heard from people who want to locate in Blue Earth.

The council discussed whether the city could make the bond payments on the project from the rent it would receive from businesses.

"With visibility off the Interstate, they'll come sooner or later," said Councilman Rick Scholtes. "Looks like a good idea, if we can get the funding."

Turning to other business, Michelle Hall, director of the Faribault County Fitness Center, reported that the city's swimming pool will close for the season Tuesday. Until then, it will open to the public at 1 p.m.

Hall gave a report on this year's season, noting that the second free swim night is Thursday and will include Art in the Park as well as synchronized swimming.

She said implementing 10-minute breaks every hour this season helped with water contamination because parents were reminded to take their kids to the bathroom and reapply sunscreen.

She noted she has received positive feedback about the pool and programs.

"Best staff I've ever had," Hall noted.

The one problem has been in tracking season pass holders, she said. People buy a family pass for a certain number of people, then want to add several more as the season goes on. The passes are loaned to non-family members, like a boyfriend or girlfriend. People claim they are the family member in the photo using excuses such as, "That's what I looked like before my haircut."

Hall said she looked around for a way to maintain order and came across the fingerprinting system used by the Little Giants care center. She talked to the company that maintains it and they can set it up for the pool.

Cost to upgrade the pool's computer system for fingerprinting is $3,360.

The council discussed eliminating family passes in favor of individual passes. Hall said family passes are $130 and individual passes are $90 for the season.

"It's important for us to make it so people can use the pool," said Mayor Rob Hammond. "It's better to have them in the water than not in the water."

The council wanted to look more closely into the fingerprinting system before deciding.

In other business, the council approved:

o Vacating an alley on the corner of Seventh and Highway 169 for the new Blue Earth Drug building.

o Placing a question on the November ballot regarding the number of votes required to change the city charter. Currently, 51 percent is needed. The ballot will ask voters if they want it changed to 60 percent.

o Placing another question on the ballot to see if voters want to replace the ward representation on the council with at-large positions. A petition was presented with the required number of signatures to get the question on the ballot.

o Setting an assessment hearing Sept. 17 for last year's construction on Tenth and Galbraith. The construction is completed and the final costs are known, meaning they can be assessed.



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