Everyone wants this piece of land
Everyone wants it and everyone has an idea of how to use it.
‘It’ is the piece of land at the Faribault County Fairgrounds that was the site of the I-90 Go Kart Speedway for the past 10 years.
On Tuesday evening, all the members of the fair board and Blue Earth City Council, as well as other interested parties, met at the fairgrounds to discuss ideas for the property.
The land, as well as most of the area used by the fair, is owned by the city of Blue Earth. That includes the property west of the main entrance road into the fair from near the Walmart parking lot.
The fair board, however, owns the land east of that road, including the horse barn, horse arena and the property where the Green Giant statue and Giant Park are located.
The fair board also owns most of the buildings located on the city-owned fairgrounds, but the city owns the grandstand.
Topping the discussion was a previous proposal to build a ball diamond on the former go kart track, and also allowing the fair board to use the area as well during the fair.
Several fair board members, including Sara Gack and Carl Carlson, said they were doubtful that having a new ballfield located there would leave enough room for the fair’s use.
And, that cars and trucks parking on the field could ruin it, especially if there is rain.
Fair board president Daryl Murray and Blue Earth Area Youth Baseball president Brent Legred disagreed.
“I think there would be room for a ballfield if it is a youth size one,” Murray says. “If the bases are closer together.”
Legred says the baseball association is only concerned about the infield area and that the fair could use the outfield for parking.
“We sink PVC pipes into the ground for the outfield fence,” he says. “We sink the posts into the PVC pipes and it makes for a sturdy fence. We can remove it in 30 minutes and place it around the infield to protect that area.”
Fair board member Gene Stallkamp said that if the ballfield outfield is damaged during the fair, it could easily be repaired well in time for the next season’s play.
Legred says the baseball league is growing each year and they need another field.
“We are just lucky there isn’t a girls softball league or we would be in trouble,” he says. “We would not have enough fields. We are already seriously short of space.”
The youth baseball has grown to 12 teams and 200 kids in just three years, he says.
“We had seven tournaments this year and plan on nine for next year,” he says. “That brings hundreds of visitors to town.”
Members of the Blue Earth City Council seemed to be split on their feelings of where a new ballfield should be located.
Councilman John Huisman says the best spot would be at the 14th Street softball complex, and suggested that St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center might be willing to lease some of its land to the city for expansion of the ballfield area.
Councilman Glenn Gaylord disagreed, saying the best location would be where the go kart track had been.
Gaylord also said he was dead set against another land proposal that of swapping the go kart track area owned by the city with the Giant Park site owned by the fair board.
“My idea is to work together on the best use of the land,” he says. “But if we give up ownership of that land, we give up control of what happens there.”
Murray says the fair board would be willing to continue to work with the other groups and see if a ballfield can fit into the area and still leave enough room for the fair to use in front of the grandstand.
“The bottom line is, no matter what else happens, the fair board wants to see this land swap happen,” Murray says.
That swap would be the area of the go kart track in exchange for the land that composes Giant Park.
It could also include the grandstand itself, which Murray calls a liability because of all the upgrades needed to be done to it.
Also at the meeting it was suggested using the ballfield behind the high school, but Legred says there are some real drainage issues with it and a large amount of tiling would need to be done and the school has no plans to do that.
Blue Earth Area School superintendent Evan Gough says that while the school wants to continue its relationship with the city, they have no desire to be involved in building a new ballfield.
Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce executive director Cindy Lyon updated the groups about her ideas for expansion at Giant Park.
Those plans include a possible building to house the cap collection of Roger ‘Bucky’ Legried.
“We had over 3,000 people sign our guest book this past summer at the Red Barn at Giant Park,” Lyon says.
She said she strongly favors the land exchange that would give ownership of Giant Park to the city.
Fair board member Marlin Krupp pointed out that the property where the statue is located was leased to the city from the fair board for 25 years.
“That was 34 years ago,” he pointed out. “It is time to do something about that.”
Krupp also asked about the cost of putting in a ballfield.
“Mr. Legred, who pays the bills?” he questioned. “Who pays for making the field and removing the (go kart track) light poles?”
Mayor Rob Hammond said those were good questions and that the City Council still “needs to cover all the bases,” when it comes to making a decision on the matter.
“We need to look at both places (fairgrounds and 14 Street ball diamonds) and look at actual plans,” Hammond said.