Land swap deal finally gets OK

BLUE EARTH – The land swap issue that has been batted back and forth from the Blue Earth City Council to the Faribault County Fair Board for months has been decided.

On Tuesday, the fair board voted 7-4 to accept the latest offer from the city. The plan calls for the city to take control of almost 2 acres surrounding the Green Giant statue, in exchange for about 3 acres of city land that includes the grandstand at the fairgrounds.

The northern border of the land the fair board will get is set just north of the gate in the road that leads to the former go-kart site. The council wanted to maintain ownership of the parcel of land that extends to the north edge of the fairgrounds, to allow the youth ball group to put in another diamond.

With the fair board’s acceptance, the council met in special session Wednesday and unanimously passed the ordinance to accept the deal. Councilman John Huisman was absent.

Mayor Rick Scholtes said there were some small refinements to the original deal, including amending wording to allow the city to use a portable fence on the fair board’s property. Also, if the fair board ever wants to sell, the city will have right of first refusal.

Also added was wording to prohibit any permanent structures in a 40-foot buffer zone north of the property line at the fairgrounds.

“It was a long process, but I think everybody’s happy,” Scholtes said. “Good process to be done and the fair board can start working on stuff for the fair this year. Good common ground at the end of the day.”