Blue Earth City Council received some unexpected news during a meeting held on Monday, May 2.
A dispute over a proposed tennis court project between the city and the Blue Earth Area (BEA) school district led council member Glenn Gaylord to submit his letter of resignation after 22 years of service to the city.
“I feel that the council does not currently represent the financial interests of the citizens of Blue Earth,” Gaylord wrote.
At an April 18 city council meeting, Gaylord was the only dissenting vote on a motion to split the estimated $1,026,100 cost of a BEA High School tennis court project between the BEA school district and the city.
The motion suggested a 60/40 cost split, with the school district reimbursing 60% of the cost, plus interest, and the city reimbursing 40% of the cost. The city would be responsible for the initial financing of the project.
Gaylord had been reluctant to have the city take on such financial responsibility for the project.
“It’s a two million dollar project,” Gaylord said during the April 18 business session. “A lot of responsibility for the city, a lot of risk for the city.”
The board accepted Gaylord’s resignation on May 2 with some regret.
Noting that Gaylord was in his 22nd year on Blue Earth City Council, council member John Huisman admitted to having mixed feelings about Gaylord’s decision.
“Glenn has always strived to serve all citizens of Blue Earth, and I wish him well,” Huisman said.
Indeed, Gaylord concluded his resignation letter with the following words: “I have been honored to serve the citizens of Blue Earth for the past five and a half terms as a council member.”
Mayor Rick Scholtes has appointed council member Wendy Cole to replace Gaylord as vice mayor of Blue Earth. Cole accepted the date with thanks.
The council passed a motion to announce candidates to fill Gaylord’s position in the Faribault County Register. Interviews for the vacant position will take place during the municipal council meeting scheduled for Monday, June 6.
In response to lingering doubts about the common tennis court project, City Administrator Mary Kennedy recommended an updated project plan to council.
The city had previously determined that it would be more beneficial to jointly fund the BEA High School and Putnam Park facilities. However, Kennedy presented a new funding recommendation to the board on May 2.
Kennedy suggested that the two facilities should be funded separately and built on separate schedules.
“This proposal (will allow) BEA tennis teams to continue to use the courts at Putnam Park while the new courts are being constructed at the high school,” Kennedy noted.
His proposal outlined a project to build a tennis court at BEA High School beginning in 2022, with an estimated total cost of $1,026,100. As determined at the April 18 city council meeting, the city would be responsible for 40% of this cost, or $410,440.
“The current and best option for the city to fund the tennis court project is through the use of annual bond leases,” Kennedy explained. “Under this authority, the EDA should be involved as a partner, with the city leasing the property to the EDA to make payments. It is regulatory in nature. »
Kennedy said the city would typically use tax abatement bonds to fund a project of this nature. However, the city has already reached its statutory debt limits through funding for projects at Faribault County Fitness Center, Golden Spike Business Park and the city’s housing development.
Meanwhile, Kennedy suggested that the Putnam Park project, which would begin in 2023 on its recommended schedule, could be funded primarily through grants and ARPA funds.
The project would involve a complete reconstruction of the Putnam Park facility, which would include basketball, pickleball and tennis courts. The total estimated cost of the project is $779,050, of which the city would be 100% responsible.
“The city will apply for the DNR Parks and Recreation grant in the amount of $250,000,” Kennedy explained. She added that there was also $339,649.19 in ARPA funds available.
“Combining these two, $189,400.83 should be allocated from the general levy or another source such as liquor funds,” Kennedy concluded.
Finally, Kennedy proposed that the city and school district create a joint powers agreement and board to negotiate future maintenance responsibilities and capital expenditure budgeting for jointly owned athletic facilities.
“I think it’s important that everyone is on the same playing field – no pun intended – that everyone knows where everyone else stands,”Kennedy concluded. “Joint council and agreement on powers would allow a capital expenditure budget to be approved by both groups.”
The board responded favorably to Kennedy’s recommendation.
“I think you’ve done a lot of good research on this Mary, so thank you,”said Scholtes.“Keep moving forward. It’s a good plan.