New land swap deal proposed

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council has adjusted a proposed land swap arrangement, sending it back to the Faribault County Fair Board.

The city and fair board have been trying to strike a deal for months over two parcels of land. The one they agree on is 1.8 acres surrounding Green Giant Park that the fair board will turn over to the city. The other involves an almost 6-acre plot that includes the grandstand and go-kart track at the fairgrounds. The city would turn it over to the fair board.

Negotiations have bogged down over how much land to include, and what the land will be used for after the swap. The city wants to build a ball diamond at the fairgrounds and the fair board wants the land for parking.

The council went back to the last offer it devised in late December. The plan bisects the fairgrounds parcel with a line just south of the gate driveway on the east side of the plot that allows access to the go-kart track.

The new deal also includes a clause to leave an option for a ballfield.

On Monday, Mayor Rick Scholtes proposed moving the border 20 to 30 feet north, putting it on the other side of the gate driveway, as long as a portable outfield fence is allowed to be set up on the fair board’s land during baseball season.

Milton Steele and Gene Stalkamp of the fair board were present and Scholtes asked if the board is more comfortable with the arrangement.

The council, Steele and Stalkamp discussed various improvements to the land, including moving go-kart fences and lights, and how to keep runoff from going where they don’t want it.

Scholtes explained that the city is not going to do any construction on the diamond until money is secured, and that could be years. It certainly won’t be this summer.

He added that if the fair board wants to level the land, it could, and the city will raise it back up when it is ready to build a ball diamond.

Councilman John Huisman said the city should help with the leveling expense.

“It’s on our property, we can’t expect them to pay for it,” he reasoned.

Steele and Stalkamp said the fair board will meet April 9, so Scholtes proposed the ordinance be re-worded and put to a vote at the council meeting on April 1.

If the fair board approves it April 9, the ordinance must be published, and it will take effect 30 days after that.