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Sisters sale takes big step

By Staff | Jul 8, 2018

The BE City Council also took steps to vacate this alley behind the Three Sisters buildings, to make room for a proposed elevator behind the Sisters.

While at first glance it appears the sale of the Three Sisters buildings in downtown Blue Earth is a done deal, that is not quite the case.

At their meeting last Monday night the Blue Earth City Council passed an ordinance that paves the way for the sale of the Three Sisters buildings to the non-profit group Rural Renaissance Project.

But, any final sale could actually still be several months away.

Any sale of property by the city of Blue Earth needs to be done by passage of a city ordinance, according to the Blue Earth City Charter, which was completed on Monday after the second reading of the property transfer ordinance.

But, it does not mean the sale is completed.

“There is still no closing date set,” City Attorney David Frundt said. “So this is still a potential sale at this point. You will still have to approve another motion in the future. The last item will be the actual purchase agreement.”

The ordinance will now be published in the city’s official newspaper, the Faribault County Register, and does not become effective until 30 days after publication. So even if the city wanted to complete the sale, it cannot happen until at least 30 days from now.

“This action just helps us stay on schedule for an eventual sale if the council agrees to do it,” City Administrator Tim Ibisch explained.

Attorney Frundt also updated the council on the proposal agreement between the city and the Rural Renaissance Project, which spells out what each party is responsible for.

“The parties have agreed to it and signed the final form of the agreement,” Frundt said. “It gives Rural Renaissance Project exclusive rights to the buildings until the end of the year, and a closing and sale would happen after they raise the funds stated in the agreement, by that date.”

That amount of funding calls for $1 million to be raised by the non-profit group before the sale.

The council also had the first reading of another property transfer that involved the Three Sisters buildings.

This one would call for the vacation of the alley behind the three buildings which would free up space for the construction of an elevator, part of the plans of the Rural Renaissance Project.

Once the alley is vacated, it would be split between the two adjourning owners the owner of the Three Sisters and the owner of the Blue Earth Senior Center, which is the city.

It would not affect the parking area of the Senior Center, officials said.

In other business at the meeting, the council:

Also passed another property transfer ordinance, selling a lot at the corner of Ninth and Nicollet streets to John Weber. It is the site of a former house which the city had torn down earlier this year.

Listened to an update about the work of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) in both Blue Earth and Faribault County.

Alissa Oeltjenbruns of SMIF reported they have invested $2.2 million in Faribault County since 1986. Two of the current items include SMIF’s involvement with the Blue Earth Community Foundation, and their recent work with the city as part of the new REV program.

Received an update on various construction projects in Blue Earth from City Engineer Wes Brown.

Several of the projects are delayed due both to the weather and rain, and other issues. Brown said the contractor for the new housing development is requesting an extention on his Aug. 31 deadline for completion due to the extremely wet conditions.

Approved a list of election judges for both the primary and general elections to be held in August and November.

Heard from resident Wanda Espeland who questioned a charge from the city for cleaning up a debris pile in the street in front of her residence on Rice Street that had been left there during a construction project at her property. She said she had not been informed to remove it.

The charge included a $50 administrative fee and a $150 charge for the city having removed the pile.

After some discussion, the City Council voted to waive the $50 administrative fee, but to keep the $150 charge for removal of the debris pile in place.