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BE Council amends land swap deal

By Staff | Dec 23, 2012

Just as the Blue Earth City Council was about to pass an ordinance Monday night that would convey land to the Faribault County Fair Board, an amendment to cut back on the amount of property to be swapped with the fair was proposed and passed.

And, the amendment left open the possibility of a ball field being built in the area that previously housed the I-90 Go Kart track.

City councilmen Russ Erichsrud and John Gartzke made the first motion and second to accept the ordinance which would have given the fair board all of the land that was the go kart track, plus the area around the grandstand and new Veterans Memorial building and the grandstand itself.

In exchange, the city would be getting the land where Giant Park is located from the fair board.

But, before the vote could be taken, Councilman Rick Scholtes made one more plea for saving an area for a ball field and not swapping as much land with the fair board.

His amendment was to give the fair board 280 feet of land going north from the south boundary of the previously proposed area.

“We would still keep the north portion of the land, which would be 300 to 320 feet,” Scholtes says. “That would be plenty of room for a ball field, if one is ever built there.”

Scholtes’ selling point was that the home plate area of a ball field would have to be in the northeast corner of the property and not in the southwest corner as had recently been proposed.

“Plus, we would have in the agreement that the fair board would be able to use the outfield portion of the ball field during the fair,” Scholtes says. “That would give them plenty of room for staging for grandstand shows.”

Scholtes pointed out that this was a win-win deal and was a fair solution for everyone involved.

And, he added, if there was a petition presented with enough signatures to overturn the current proposed ordinance, it could delay any decision on the land swap well into the next year.

The vote on Scholtes’ amendment which had been seconded by Councilman Glenn Gaylord, was 6-1. Only Gartzke cast a dissenting vote.

The vote on the amended ordinance passed by the same 6-1 margin.

Before the vote, Erichsrud proposed tabling both the amendment and the vote on the ordinance, but Scholtes pushed for a vote at Monday’s council meeting. So did councilman Allen Aukes, who was attending his last meeting.

“This is a workable solution for both parties,” Aukes said. “I’m willing to do this now.”

Gaylord called the new proposal more fair.

“This is more of an acre for acre land swap,” he said.

Gartzke, who would vote no, was concerned that the fair board was not involved in the decision and final land swap agreement.

City Attorney David Frundt was instructed to draft another amended ordinance, which will go into effect 30 days after publication in the official city newspaper, the Faribault County Register.