Ballfield or more fairgrounds – or both?
Just as the discussion about what to do with the former I-90 Go Kart track was starting to heat up at last Monday’s Blue Earth City Council meeting, a possible compromise was suggested.
At issue was whether the property should be used as a ballfield or be used by the Faribault County Fair for expanding grandstand shows.
The topic has been on the city’s agenda in the past. In fact, a committee has been discussing a possible land swap between the city and the fair board.
One possible scenario was to swap the property where the Green Giant statue is located now owned by the fair board with the property where the grandstand and former go kart track is located owned by the city.
Councilman Russ Erichsrud, at Monday’s meeting, said he felt the go kart track property should be used by the fair.
But, Councilman Rick Scholtes, a proponent of using it for a ballfield, said it might be possible to do both.
He described a plan by Councilman Allen Aukes to put in a ballfield that would still allow room for the fair board to have more space as well. Home plate on the new field plan would be on the northeast side of the go kart property, near the main gate into the fair.
“Plus, the fair can use the outfield of the ballfield during the fair week,” Scholtes says. “The ballfields are no longer in use at the time of the fair.”
Erichsrud was still insistent that the fair have first use of the land, but Councilman Glenn Gaylord disagreed.
“Ten years ago I voted to take out the ballfield there and try out a go kart track as something new and fresh,” he says. “If it didn’t work out we said it would be put back to a ballfield. If I said that 10 years ago, my word is still good now.”
Gaylord added that if it is possible to do both a ballfield and more space for grandstand events, then why not do it.
“A ballfield will get used for months, while the fair only needs the land for five or six days out of the year,” he says. “Kids and adults, baseball and women’s softball teams can use the field.”
Daryl Murray, president of the fair board was at the council meeting.
“I would be very interested in seeing this plan,” he says. “I’d like to see how much space would be available.”
Murray also says the fair board has looked at moving the grandstand to the east, something that would work in well with the new proposal.
“We have talked to Spenser Movers and the cost is not that bad,” Murray says. “Moving it east would allow us to do much more in the line of grandstand shows.”
Erichsrud also brought up the point of the cost of building a new ballfield.
Scholtes says he thought that with some volunteer labor it could be done for $10,000. But that figure, he adds, does not include lights.
Gaylord suggested the ballfield could be done in stages, adding the lights later.
The council decided to bring all members of the council and fair board together to go over this proposal.
“I also think the school should be involved in these discussions,” Councilman John Huisman says.
However, City Administrator Kathy Bailey says she has discussed the issue with the school and they do not have any ballfield work included in their five-year plans.
No date was set for the joint meeting. Members of the council and the fair board also indicated that a land swap involving the property that is Giant Park should also still be included in the future discussions.