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BE nixes fair board swap proposal

By Staff | Feb 25, 2013

The proposed land swap deal between the Blue Earth City Council and the Faribault County Fair Board appears to be back to square one.

After listening to a counter proposal offer from fair board president Daryl Murray, the council voted 5-2 to not accept it.

The fair board had offered to swap the property composing Giant Park with the property that had been the site of the former I-90 Go-Kart Raceway.

Not included in the fair board’s swap proposal was the grandstand or the land around it.

“We (the fair board) met and the majority decided that we didn’t want the grandstand because of the cost of maintenance and the liability,” Murray says. “Our original 1999 agreement with the city says we can use all the grounds, including the grandstand, for the fair. So the majority were not in favor of taking on the ownership.”

Councilman Russ Erichsrud asked if the idea of the fair board to move the grandstand was dead.

“No, that dream has not died,” Murray says. But Erichsrud quickly added that maybe it is “quivering.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes said the council had worked hard to create a plan that would include a ball field, have room for the fair to use for grandstand performances and give the city ownership of Giant Park.

“With this proposed plan from the fair board there is no ballfield, period,” Scholtes says. “We want to have this land usable for baseball for two months and the fair for two weeks.”

Murray responded that a majority of the fair board were not willing to share the property in question.

“They want this land used strictly for the fair’s use,” Murray says. “They are saying the ball interests should look at an alternate site. I agree that a lot of time has been spent on these proposals, but I am just the messenger don’t shoot the messenger.”

Scholtes suggested the fair board might allow the Blue Earth Chamber to build a building at Giant Park, much like the city has allowed the fair board to construct buildings at the city-owned fairgrounds.

Murray agreed that could be a possibility.

“Anything is open for discussion,” he said.

But, Scholtes added that it looked as though there would not be a land swap, unless there could be multiple uses of the go kart land.

Murray asked for a vote on the question, and he got one. Councilman John Huisman made the motion to not accept the proposal and it was quickly seconded by both Gaylord and Erichsrud.

Voting no on the motion to turn down the fair board’s proposal were council persons John Gartzke and Chelsey Haase.

Huisman added that he would like to see representatives of the fair board and the council continue to negotiate a land swap.

“We should continue to see what we can do, and try and keep the door open,” Huisman said.

In the end the council decided to continue discussions with the fair board. Councilmen Russ Erichsrud and Glenn Gaylord will represent the council on the committee.

In other business at last Tuesday’s meeting, the council heard a report from the city engineer that included information on the Highway 169 project.

The MnDOT Cooperative Agreement with the city will be ready by the end of the week.

In it will be the proposed detour routes, the amount of compensation the state will furnish the city for the storm sewer work on Third Street and other compensation amounts.

Also included will be information that MnDOT plans on sharing more of the costs for the lighting along the highway corridor than originally proposed.