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Wanted: Tenants

By Staff | Sep 16, 2018

The Wells Business Park is ready for, well, business.

At their regularly scheduled Wells City Council meeting, Mayor David Braun brought up the topic of the Wells Business Park’s advertising plan.

“Now that we’ve got a business park, what’s the plan to get it filled?” asked the mayor of his council.

City administrator CJ Holl stated the Wells EDA had planned to discuss the topic during their meeting later on in the week. It was also noted the original signs Wells had put up for advertising were taken down by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The council is still unsure as to why the original sign was taken down.

Councilwoman Brenda Weber asked if the lots had their prices set, to which EDA president Brad Heggen, who was present at the Wells City Council meeting, said yes.

“The estimates of the lots are anywhere between $25,000 and $45,000,” said Heggen.

Councilwoman Crystal Dulas asked whether or not there were any incentive packages for lot buyers, such as landscaping. Holl stated there were programs like that available to the city, and it was something the EDA should explore with local incentive packages.

Later on in their agenda, the city approved pay estimate No. 7 for the Wells Business Park at the cost of $249,294.94. They also approved payment of pay estimate No. 4 for the Sixth Street project at $183,328.64 and pay estimate No. 3 for the Third Street project at $9,371.52.The council also approved a change order for the Sixth Street project based on the Wells Public Utilities (WPU) recommendation, which will run utilities up to Sixth Street. The change order was in regards to the agreement the city has with land owner Mike Weber.

Councilwoman Weber asked whether the contract with the city runs with Weber or if it runs with the land. City attorney David Frundt stated the agreement is for Weber’s entire ownership of his property.

“If Nordaas Homes is interested, are we required to bring service to them, too?” asked Councilwoman Weber.

To which Frundt’s response was, no.

Mayor Braun, who works at WPU and is on the WPU board, stated it was best to honor the agreement and be done with the issue.

The change order was passed by the council with the WPU’s recommendation. Dulas abstained from a number of the council’s decisions on construction payments due to her protected personal interests with Dulas Excavating.

Regarding Sixth Street’s progress, city engineer Travis Winter stated crews still have progress to be made, including finishing the project before winter. He stated there was an area of 600 feet where there was “black muck” which needed to be removed and regraded to improve soil conditions.

Third Street is almost ready to roll, with gravel on its road bed, except Winter says he has been having issues getting hold of the paving crew for the project.

“The clock is ticking,” said councilman John Herman, to which Winter responded he was well aware.

“But are they (paving crew) aware?” asked councilwoman Dulas. “I would not feel comfortable giving them any additional time for this project. I don’t want this to be another business park incident.”

In other portions of the meeting, the council was visited by a representative of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), who discussed what SMIF?was and what types of projects they are focusing on. SMIF also requested a donation from the city of $250, with every $1 generated, $7 goes back into the communities SMIF?supports.

With eastern Faribault County’s new SMIF community foundation, Our Town USA, the SMIF team has slowly become more present in the Wells community.

Before approving the $250 donation, councilwoman Dulas had some strong feelings about SMIF’s support of the Wells community in the past.

“I’d like to see them come to town a little more often than asking for money. I know they come to town when they want money,” said Dulas.

Both the city’s attorney and the city’s administrator were quick to respond to Dulas’ comment.

“You heard from Katie, our representative from SMIF, earlier. They’ve been doing a lot of work on the childcare topic. In fact, they had a conference in Mankato a month ago and Tiffany Schrader from our office went to that,” said Holl. “SMIF is working across the state to talk to communities that have childcare issues. Wells is about 103 slots short right now with daycare, so it is a big issue not just here, but everywhere.”

“My experience with SMIF is if you have a reason for them to come to town, and of they’re available, they will. If you ask. So once you have this community foundation relationship going, we’ll have much more of a presence,” said Frundt. “They have an annual meeting coming up, perhaps that is something the council would be interested in having a representative at.”

“I know Rick Christianson has been working with Tim Penny fairly closely,” was John Herman’s response to Dulas’ hesitation to donate to SMIF.

“SMIF is a well-known organization. I haven’t had much work working with SMIF, but I worked with their sister programs the West Central Initiative, which I set up two community foundations with, and the North West Foundation,” informed Holl. “I believe we have ample room in our budget to be able to donate the requested monies, if the council is interested in doing that.”

“Childcare is absolutely essential right now,” said councilwoman Whitney Harig, putting a motion on the table to approve the donation. “It’s something we obviously need and we should support them in their efforts to help us.”

It was passed unanimously.

The council also:

Accepted the resignation of part-time police officer Tyler Linde,

Moved into closed session for the purchase or sale of the Paragon Bank property.

Adopted resolutions 2018-19: opposing the sale of strong beer, spirits and wine in grocery and convenience stores, and 2018-20: setting part-time and non-union wages for 2019,

Approved a flat rate permit fee for air conditioning and furnaces at $50, and water heater installation at $30. City attorney Frundt stated the fees were required by state, while city administrator Holl stated flat-rating the fees would just simplify the process for consumers.