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BE Council pondering purchase of ‘Giant’ land

By Staff | Jan 28, 2008

The Green Giant statue in Blue Earth is a community icon, City Administrator Ben Martig said at a city council work session last Monday, but the land that he stands on isn’t legally his.

Martig told the council that the lease between the Blue Earth Chamber and the fair board for the property that the statue is on was for 25 years and has expired.

Martig told the council that the best option might be for the city to purchase the land, instead of leasing it. He said he has been involved in talks about a possible purchase.

The Blue Earth Area Chamber put up the statute, Martig said. The city’s role has been to do maintenance, like mow the area and repair the base, he added.

Now with the expiration of the lease, Martig said an option would be for the city to step in and purchase the land that the statue is on. “With the chamber budget it is probably not in their capabilities,” Martig said.

He suggested that an appraisal of the land would cost $600. He also said that the fair board had mentioned a yearly lease cost of around $1,000.

Martig also reviewed several “gentleman’s” agreements that the city has had with the fair over the years. These have included the city using a double quonset building for storage most of the year in exchange for maintenance work at the fairgrounds. That work has included repainting the grandstand, pumping the septic system and other work before and after the fair.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord asked that a list be made of the different trades. “Its been a good give and take relationship between the city and the fair,” Mayor Rob Hammond said. Martig repeated that he thought that it would be in the best interests of the community to establish a long term stability with an agreement of some type for the property.

Kerry Agreement Reached

Martig and Hammond also told the council that an agreement with Kerry Group had been settled in principle.

A lawsuit by the Kerry Group challenging a $2.63 million property tax valuation and property taxes payable had been dropped, Martig said

The city is also moving forward with a JobZ program for Kerry Group that would be a business subsidy and would enable Kerry to expand beyond what was there previously, before the fire last October.

A hearing on the JobZ subsidy will be held on February 11th, Martig said.

“A number of issues have been resolved and we are able to move forward in a positive way,” Martig said.

“The net effect is very positive,” Mayor Hammond said. He added that Kerry had been looking at other options (besides expanding in Blue Earth) that involved some of its other facilities.

“This is a pretty good outcome,” Hammond said.

In other business at last Monday’s meeting, the Blue Earth City Council:

– Blue Earth Fire Chief Terry Campbell included information on the 81 fire calls the department responded to in 2007. He also reported three firemen retired in 2007, and one resigned after moving away. He did say five new members are in training and two others were previously hired, and the department will be at full strength for the first half of 2008, until more retirements happen in July.

– Mayor Hammond signed a proclamation for January being designated National Mentors Month.

– Decided to try and reclaim at least some of the special assessments that were placed on a property that is now coming up for auction by the county. A total of over $9,000 is owed to the city, but they discussed just trying to place the $4,000 in special assessments back onto the property after the sale. Some of that assessment was for demolition of the house that had been on the property.