Blue Earth divided on tennis court

BLUE EARTH — Unanimous votes were hard to come by at a Blue Earth City Council meeting held Monday evening, July 19, at 5 p.m.

When several ordinances came under review, objections from a few council members got heated.

The council had a lengthy debate about approving a memorandum of understanding with Blue Earth Area Schools. The memorandum calls for the city to split the preliminary costs for construction of a new tennis court facility.

The total cost of preparations of this phase of construction sits at $18,000. The council is being asked to put up $9,000 of the costs.

Council member Glenn Gaylord objected strongly to the proposed split.

“I don’t see why this shouldn’t be solely on the school,” he stated. “It shouldn’t be the city’s responsibility at all.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes disagreed with Gaylord, seeing value in helping the district fund the tennis facility.

“There is no way the school district can build the tennis facility themselves. They need the city’s help,” said Scholtes.

He added, “The plan is for the city to fund the project up front. However, the school will pay the city back over time.”

Gaylord was not swayed by further discussion, but the rest of the council was. The motion carried with a six to one vote in favor of the memorandum.

The council also reviewed a resolution authorizing the city to apply for a grant covering the cost to reduce salt discharge from in-home water softeners.

There were a few objections to this resolution. Council member Russ Erichsrud expressed concern regarding the effect the project could have upon local plumbing businesses if homeowners have reduced needs for a water softener.

“This project might not eliminate local businesses, but it would wound them,” Erichsrud explained.

Erichsrud’s concerns were taken under consideration. However, the council ultimately decided that it was more important to address high waste levels at the water treatment plant as soon as possible.

The resolution was passed with a six to one vote; Erichsrud was the sole opposing council member.

Other business discussed by the council included:

— A second reading of an ordinance increasing the number of dogs considered a kennel by the city from three to four. The ordinance further clarifies kennels are prohibited within city limits. The amendment was approved by a six to one vote.

— The acquisition of a property at 321 N. Grove Street in Blue Earth by the city. The property is currently held by Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust. The city intends to do environmental testing to determine the extent of contamination in the soil.

The Trust refused to permit the testing unless a fully-executed purchase agreement is in place. They asked a minimum of $1,000 earnest money from the city. After some discussion, the city agreed to offer $1,000 to the Trust, acknowledging they can back out of the agreement if they are unsatisfied with the results from the testing.


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