Blue Earth OKs fitness center bid

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council decided Monday on a builder for an addition to the Faribault County Fitness Center, but balked at choosing a way to pay for it.

In April, the council discussed how membership at the Fitness Center has grown, and how the layout doesn’t work well.

The expansion would add 5,100 square feet of space to the east of the current center, in the form of a pre-fab concrete structure.

The expansion would include two larger locker rooms, a business office, a weight area and cardio machines. The old locker rooms would be turned into an exercise classroom.

The council chose the Ankeny Builders (Blue Earth) bid of $497,169 over the United Builders (Blue Earth) bid of $580,597. They were the only two bids received. The city had budgeted $625,000 for the project.

Councilman John Huisman asked why there was such a gap between the bids. It’s a difference in designs and sub-contractors, said city administrator Kathy Bailey.

She noted there are three ways to pay for the project: internal loan, abatement bond and revenue bond.

She recommended an enterprise revenue bond. It does not require a referendum, and the bond payment comes directly from the facility. If profits are not available for payment, the city’s general fund reserve makes the payment.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord moved to accept the Ankeny bid and pay for it via revenue bond.

“The main selling point was they could do it with revenue,” Gaylord said. “It’s either gonna pay for itself or not.”

Huisman wanted the motion amended to use an abatement bond, which pledges a section of the tax base that equals the payment amount. That died for lack of a second.

Councilman Dan Brod wanted the motion separated.

“I don’t want the bond in the motion at all,” he said. “I want to think about it.”

Gaylord amended his motion to drop the bond issue and just approve the Ankeny bid. The council agreed.

Visiting an old issue, the council discussed some options with Shawn Gudahl of Highland Drive regarding his putting in a drain from his property to a waterway owned by the city.

City Attorney David Frundt proposed selling Gudahl the triangle of land he needs to set up the drain to take the water away from his basement.

County Engineer Wes Brown was worried about the water freezing and backing up in an open drain. He said the city was re-doing the road anyway and every lot will get connected to the storm sewer, so Gudahl could pump the water into the storm sewer.

“That might be your best bet,” Mayor Rick Scholtes said.

In another matter of old business, the council approved some new wording for the lease with Faribault County Humane Society to use the city’s kennel.

The vote was 6-1 with Gaylord dissenting.

The Humane Society picks up stray animals from throughout the county and houses them in a small building leased from the city. The lease is in effect through 2013, but the council wanted to start working on a new one early.

Councilman Russ Erichsrud said he would present the city-approved agreement to the Humane Society for its possible approval.

In other business, the council approved Sept. 23 as the date for a public hearing on the Gorman Street project. The meeting will start at 5:05 p.m. at the Public Safety Building.

The project will include construction of water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer mains, residential lateral lines for both water and sanitary sewer, curb, gutter and residential street surface, sidewalks and driveway aprons, and boulevard improvements. The estimated cost of the improvements is $2.33 million.

The area proposed to be assessed for such improvements is as follows: All lots and parcels of land within Third Street from Highway 169 or Grove Street west one block to Walnut Street, Eleventh Street from Main Street to Moore Street, Twelfth Street from Main Street to Galbraith Street, and Highland Drive.