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Board votes to keep parks closed

By Staff | May 10, 2020

Pihl’s Park, left, is one of the county parks that will stay closed until further notice.

When do we open the county parks?

That was the question brought by Public Works director Mark Daly to the Faribault County Commissioners at their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 5.

“I do not want to open them up until we can open them for everybody,” board chairman Tom Warmka said. “I do not want to treat people different whether they are permanent campers or weekend campers.”

Warmka acknowledged he had received a lot of phone calls on the subject.

“I would not vote to open them to anybody until the governor opens up the state,” commissioner Tom Loveall added.

County attorney Kathryn Karjala reminded the board the executive order by Governor Walz states the parks are to remain closed.

“And the governor is who people need to call,” board member Greg Young commented.

The board decided to wait until their next regular meeting, on May 19, to make a decision on opening the parks. The current Stay at Home order will have expired by then. But, as the commissioners noted, it is possible the order could be extended again.

The commissioners did pass a motion to allow people who have permanent spots at the park to enter the park for maintenance purposes, such as mowing the lawn. They will have to make an appointment with the Public Works Department to arrange a time to be let into the park.

“It is inconvenient, but that is the way it is,” Loveall concluded.

Daly also presented bids for three box culverts for 2020 projects. One will be installed on County Road 23 on the state line with Iowa, another one will go on County Road 25 east of Bricelyn and the third one will go on 590th Avenue in Clark Township. The bid for the three culverts totaled $819,271 and was awarded to Landwehr Construction.

Daly updated the board on two road projects. The shouldering work on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 15 began on May 4 and work on CSAH 23, which is a full-depth reclamation project, was set to begin on May 11.

Daly was also reappointed to another term as the county highway engineer. The appointment is for four years and expires on April 30, 2024.

The board also discussed the status of Dr. H. Russ Street and if it is the city of Blue Earth or Faribault County who would be responsible for upgrading the surface of the road. The board directed Karjala to work with the city to review past resolutions on file and report back to the board with her findings.

The board also heard from Blue Earth mayor Rick Scholtes regarding a tax abatement proposal for the APX Housing Project.

“It would be a 20-year tax abatement,” Scholtes explained. “A tax abatement has fewer strings attached then forming a TIF (Tax increment financing) District and would allow us to begin construction sooner.”

County auditor/treasurer Darren Esser urged the board to hold off on any action on the tax abatement until the next meeting.

Loveall agreed.

“I would like to have some numbers in front of us so we can have a better understanding of the financial implications,” Loveall stated.

The board passed a motion directing Esser to work with the city of Blue Earth to get firm numbers and to report back by the next meeting.

Sheriff Mike Gormley also called into the meeting and was asked by the commissioners for an update on how things were going in his department.

“Domestic calls are up,” Gormley replied. “Our staff has remained healthy. Lisa Frommie (Emergency Management director) has been trying to secure PPE (personal protective equipment). We are fortunate we have had low numbers of people in the county who are infected with COVID-19.”

Michelle Stindtman, the program administrator for the Soil and Water Conservation District, brought a resolution to the board to approve a memorandum of agreement for the Le Sueur One Watershed One Plan project.

“The planning stages for the Le Sueur River Watershed One Watershed One Plan project will soon begin,” Stindtman told the board. “Blue Earth, Freeborn and Waseca Counties are also involved in this project. This resolution allows for the application to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for a planning grant to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan.”

The resolution was approved by a unanimous vote.

In other business:

The board approved the hiring of Zachary Coxworth as Maintenance Worker II.

Approval was given for Troy Beckman, the buildings and grounds supervisor at the courthouse, to take online training for carbon monoxide and combustion. The training will allow Beckman to renew his carbon monoxide testing certification.