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W’bago council pulls plug on possible fitness center

By Staff | Apr 17, 2010

The Winnebago City Council has waited long enough.

On Tuesday night, council members pulled the plug on Mark Ossenfort’s efforts to open a fitness center.

“It’s been over a year and a half. I don’t believe he’s serious. We’ve given him adequate opportunity,” says Councilman Dana Gates.

Ossenfort operates several MC Fitness Center businesses in southern Minnesota, including Fairmont.

In August 2008, Ossenfort went before the council with plans of opening a 24-hour accessible fitness center.

He eventually signed a rental lease agreement with the city to pay $400 a month for use of the former museum site located in a portion of the Muir Library.

Although the lease expired last December, Ossenfort was current with his payments.

Councilman Chris Ziegler questioned whether the city should give up the rental income without knowing if anyone was interested in using the building for a new business.

Tuesday’s meeting was the second time Ossenfort has failed to show up to discuss his lease.

Gates says the city already has a fitness center and doesn’t believe it could support another one.

Ossenfort currently uses the building for storage. He will be given until the end of June to move out.

In other business, the council laid the groundwork for upgrading of the wastewater treatment plant.

Wes Brown of Bolton & Menk was on hand to explain two options the city has.

“We looked at a 20-year planning period,” he says “There is not a large population growth anticipated. Unless you see a large industrial use increase, your plant is adequate.”

One alternative is estimated to cost $1.685 million, while the other is $2.335 million.

Because public funding will be used to help pay for the improvements, a public hearing must be held prior to submitting an application.

The council approved to immediately advertise the hearing, which will be held on Tuesday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Municipal Center. The deadline to apply for funding is May 7.

The more expensive option involves replacing the primary clarifier, expanding the control room, replacing pavement and adding an enclosed area for the bar screen.

The project is tentatively set to begin in the summer of 2011.

The council will consider a request from Dave Schuster, owner of Schooter’s Bar & Grill, to limit the number of off-sale liquor licenses the city can issue.

Currently, Schuster holds one of two licenses.

He asked the council if there is any law that limits the number of off-sale licenses.

City Attorney Douglas Johanson says under state law the council determines how many can be issued.

Schuster says he’s concerned state law could be changed to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to sell liquor.

“That could put some small family operations out of business,” he says.

Johanson says the council would need to pass a resolution to cap the number of licenses.

The council agreed to study Schuster’s request and have a decision by the May council meeting.