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Go-Karts spark hot discussion

By Staff | Oct 23, 2011

A discussion about money owed to the city of Blue Earth by the I-90 Go-Kart Track Club sparked some heated debate at Monday’s City Council meeting.

In fact, a motion to forgive the amount owed the city was postponed until the next council meeting, after one councilman objected to it.

Ron Childs of the I-90 Go-Kart group was at the meeting to explain that the track has lost revenue and is unable to pay the bills to the city.

“We have had a downturn in numbers,” he says. “We are treading water, big time. It’s brutal.”

Childs says without the support of the businesses which have signage at the track, they would not be able to operate.

The go-kart group owes the city $1,059 for electricity, cleanup fees and the 2007 annual lease fee.

The go-kart organization and the city have a contract that calls for a $750 annual fee.

“We can no longer pay this $750 fee,” Childs says. “The track will no longer exist if we cannot resolve this one way or another.”

Councilman John Huisman made a motion to forgive the amount currently owed to the city, and to stop charging the annual lease fee.

Before it could receive a second, however, Councilman Rick Scholtes objected to the motion being made and Mayor Rob Hammond tabled any vote to the next meeting.

“It is our policy that if any councilman objects to a motion being made, and wants more time to study the issue, we postpone it,” he says.

Huisman says the go-kart track is an asset to the town and he wants to see it continue.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord was more vocal about the track.

“This is a form of economic development,” he says. “It brings people into the community. Wake up council.”

Gaylord says Childs does most of the work on the track at no pay and this was an intentional attempt to negate all his hard work.

Gaylord and Childs also questioned the bills being charged to the group.

“Do other groups, like ball teams, pay for the electricity for lights,” Gaylord questioned. “And do they pay an annual fee to use the fields?”

Scholtes says other groups have been charged for use of city facilities, including the 14th Street ballfields.

Childs questioned why he received a large bill for cleanup of the track area and nearby restrooms.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the city had to hire a crew to clean up both the grounds and the restroom.

“It was a terrible mess,” she says. “The people who cleaned it up say it was the worst they had ever seen.”

Childs disputed that remark, saying he is always the last person at the race track and goes around and picks up every piece of trash.

“I also check the restrooms, and they were clean when I left,” he says.

Bailey says it took one hour of cleanup for the grounds and two hours of cleanup for the restrooms.

Bailey also noted that the $750 fee was instituted to build a fund to use to remove the track and put back a softball field if there no longer is go-kart racing.

“I believe the intent was to build up a $10,000 fund,” she says. “Right now we have $2,625 in the fund.”

Hammond asked Huisman what would happen if they forgive the fee and in two years the group quits racing and the city wants to put in a softball field again.

“I guess we will then deal with that issue in two years,” Huisman says.