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BE Council amends land swap – again

By Staff | Dec 30, 2012

Mayor Rob Hammond Jr. was supposed to have already chaired his final Blue Earth City Council meeting.

But, on Thursday evening he had to bang the gavel one more time, as the council held a special meeting to discuss and vote on an amended land swap ordinance.

The council voted unanimously this time to accept the amended ordinance that changes yet again the land involved in a swap with the Faribault County Fair Board.

This time, the amount of land being given to the fair board was even less than previously authorized by the council at their last regular meeting.

“We have the actual size dimensions of the land to be exchanged, after it was surveyed,” City Administrator Kathy Bailey explained. “And the boundary line has moved quite a ways.”

Bailey referred to two maps of the land that showed both scenarios.

One was at the original amount of 280 feet north of the southern boundary of the parcel being given to the fair board. The other was at 255 feet north, which translates into a smaller amount of property, now being proposed.

Councilman Rick Scholtes explained why the change was needed.

“In my original proposal we thought there would be enough land to reserve space for a ball field and still give the fair board their 280 feet of area,” Scholtes says. “But in order to have enough room for the field and the area outside the field for things like fan seating, we need to go further south with the field area.”

The new drawing shows that some of the southern most edge of the outfield will actually be in the property that is being swapped to the fair board.

Scholtes says that a temporary outfield fence will be used and can be taken down during fair time, when the fair can use all of the outfield area.

Councilman Russ Erichsrud put it into perspective.

“So we would be using some of their land (for a ball field) and they would be using some of ours (the outfield), during the fair,” Erichsrud pointed out.

When asked whether the fair board had been given notice of the change, Kathy Bailey said yes.

“I have been in communication with Daryl (Murray, president of the fair board) and discussed this with him,” Bailey says. “He was going to share this with the other members of the fair board. And he asked me to attend the next fair board meeting.”

Councilmembers commented that the land swap was still contingent on having the fair board go along with their end of their swap which would give the city ownership of Giant Park.

Councilman John Gartzke stated he felt the council should give the ball field group a certain amount of time to raise funds for a field and give the city a plan.