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Wells wonders how many USC lots to purchase

By Staff | Jan 15, 2017

New Wells mayor David Braun, left, takes the oath of office, being given by city administrator Robin Leslie.

It was a start to the new year for the Wells City Council as David Braun took his oath of office as the new mayor of Wells, while both Crystal Dulas and Brenda Weber also took their oaths of office as new City Council members. It was after the new council members’ swearing-in when the council got down to business.

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s chairwoman, Ann Schuster, visited the council to discuss the possibility of working together regarding the purchase of United South Central’s remaining old school lot parcels.

“We have been waiting to hear back from the council and we are ready to move ahead,” said Schuster. “We would love to be able to work with the city on this as we see it only as beneficial to be working together, but we need to know if the city is ready to discuss further plans.”

The city and the HRA initially put in bids in the fall of 2015. At that time, the only properties the city was interested in were a lot contiguous where the Wells skate park is, as well as a small lot where a metal shed is that has been previously noted as a blight in the city of Wells. The hope was to use that lot for future development of recreational area for the park, such as a skating rink or another type of community activity.

“At that time, we put our bids in. They were accepted,” said city administrator Robin Leslie. “The HRA put their bids in and were accepted. At that time, the City Council’s consensus was to let the HRA run with it and then instead of working with the school, we would work with the HRA. The question all along has been what about the other parcels. I think the city might be interested in it, but not until we have an actual use.”

Schuster rebutted by stating there would be larger equity power in purchasing entire blocks of the old school land instead of just parcels of those blocks.

“I don’t know what you think would happen to those other parcels, but I would say there is more power in a larger area of land, but that’s entirely up to the council,” said Schuster. “That’s something you should consider what would happen to those pieces and would you like control over them in the future.”

Schuster reiterated the HRA was prepared to continue to move forward and that bids were already in play and not finalized. But the city administrator stated with the new council members just starting, it would be difficult for them to make a decision without knowing more about the agreements and conversations between the HRA and the City Council.

After approving the consent agenda, staff reports were made. David Frundt, the city’s attorney, mentioned during his brief report that there were currently pending litigations.

It was then the council moved up a closed session higher up on the agenda to talk with Frundt. The closed session took approximately 40 minutes and when the council returned to its public forum, Mayor Braun stated no action was taken during the closed session.

The council continued with their regular business by:

Appointing council members and other Wells community members to their 2017 committees.

Making a proclamation that January is National Mentoring Month. Mary Jo Volkman, the Success Through Adults Reaching Students, (STARS) coordinator presented the proclamation for the city.

Approving Resolution 2017-01, certifying banking powers granted to the city staff and Mayor Braun.

Signed a letter of support with cities within the Minnesota River Basin regarding the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s implementation of new phosphorus standards.

A portion of the letter to Governor Mark Dayton and Commissioner John Stine reads, “The purpose of this letter is to share our concerns and to request a meeting with you to discuss an approach that brings together state officials, agricultural groups, environmental interest and city leaders in the Minnesota River Basin so that we can work collaboratively to develop a solution that will more effectively benefit the river and ensure cost-effective expenditure of state and local resources.”

Postponed a discussion on the council’s 2017 goals as well as a review of 2016’s council goals until their next regularly scheduled meeting, which is set to take place Jan. 23, at 5 p.m.