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Two groups want former go kart land

By Staff | May 13, 2012

The Blue Earth City Council has a problem on its hands.

Two groups want to use the area of land at the fairgrounds which had been the I-90 Go Kart track.

Earlier this year, the go kart racing group informed the council they would no longer be using the track.

Now, both the Faribault County Fair Board and a group of youth baseball supporters have plans for the land.

And, representatives from both were at Monday’s work session of the council to plead their case.

Brent Legred of the Blue Earth Youth Baseball Association asked the council to consider another ball diamond in the area. Rob Norman, activities director at Blue Earth Area High School, was at the meeting to support that proposal.

“Baseball is growing here,” Legred told the council. “We have grown from just six teams (of summer youth baseball) two years ago to 12 teams this year.”

Legred adds that they are holding more tournaments in Blue Earth, also.

“Two years ago we had one tournament, last year we had three,” he says. “This year we are having seven here in Blue Earth.”

Legred says tournaments are a big boom to the Blue Earth economy.

Scheduling who plays at what field is becoming a big issue.

“We have the two fields at the fairgrounds, and the softball fields on 14th Street,” he says. “There is one behind the school but it needs to be upgraded.”

Norman says the school does plan to improve the field there, especially the drainage issue.

He also agreed with the scheduling issue.

“We have three high school teams, A,B,C,” he explains. “And sixth, seventh and eighth grade teams all trying to practice and hold games.”

Norman says a third field at the fairgrounds would mean all three high school teams could play at the same time at one place.

“Now we are busing a team to Winnebago to play,” he says. “They have a nice field, but it means extra busing for us and the visiting team.”

Darryl Murray, president of the fair board, says putting in a third ball field would harm the fair.

“We already have a limited area in front of the grandstand,” he says. “We need the go kart track area to expand that site, and to use as a staging area for grand stand shows.”

Murray says when the fair holds a demolition derby or tractor pull, a lot of room is needed for the trucks and trailers that haul the equipment. In the past, they have used the same pit area of the go kart track.

Murray points out that the fair board and the city are in the midst of negotiations on a land swap. In the deal being proposed the city would give the fair board the property in front of the grandstand, while the fair would give the city the land that the Green Giant Park is located on.

“We have been making some plans for the future, based on this land swap,” Murray says.

He also points out that the fair board is willing to take on all costs involved with removing the go kart track and the lights there, saving the city the expense.

The City Council delayed any action on what to do with the former race track area.

Mayor Rob Hammond asked the special committee that has been dealing with the proposed land swap with the fair board to continue their efforts, while also exploring options for the property as a ball field.

“I think this committee should come back and make a recommendation to the full council,” Hammond says. “I think it is important to keep these parties talking about this issue.”

Councilman Glenn Gaylord agreed, saying it is important to figure out what is the best use of the land for the community.

Councilman Rick Scholtes reiterated his previous statements that another ball field is very necessary for the community.