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Council asks EDA to grant Three Sisters an extension

By Staff | Sep 13, 2020

Janie Hanson and Beth Kalis of the Rural Renaissance Project (RRP) appeared before the Blue Earth City Council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8, to seek an extension to an agreement between the city of Blue Earth, the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the Project 3 Sisters, LLC, for completing work on the Three Sisters project.

“The reason we are asking for the extension is because of COVID,” Hanson explained. “The agreement says an extension can be granted due to unexpected circumstances and I think COVID qualifies.

Council member Glenn Gaylord asked what has been accomplished on the project.

“We have spent thousands of dollars in engineering,” Hanson replied. “The world literally shut down right when we were supposed to start on the project.”

Council member Dan Warner said construction work was being done all around the area and wondered why nothing had been done to the Three Sisters buildings.

“Construction financing was the problem,” Hanson shared. “The banks were busy with PPP (Personal Protection Program) payments. We are still on the same plan. We have just delayed the start.”

The next question concerned who would occupy the buildings.

“Do we have committed tennants?” council member Marty Cassem asked.

Hanson addressed the question of tennants.

“Yes, we have tennants who have the flexibility to wait to occupy the building,” Hanson commented.

The matter was to eventually be decided by the Blue Earth EDA at their meeting on Sept. 10. The council decided to send a recommendation for a six-month extension to the agreement with the stipulation construction must be started by June 1, 2021.

Also appearing before the council was Tim Stoner, the general manager of Blue Earth Light and Water, to discuss a project which also involves Energy Insight. The proposal involves updating the lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units on all city owned buildings.

The agreement, which was passed by the council, calls for Blue Earth Light and Water to carry the bond for $478,000. The city of Blue Earth will pay off the bond through utility bill payments.

City engineer Wes Brown attended the meeting virtually and informed the council the sewer work was complete on the Leland Park Project.

“The grading crew should be coming next week and the paving should be done in early October,” Brown said.

Brown also reported half of Sailor Street is paved and the parking lot behind city hall should be completed soon.

The council also discussed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) and how they should proceed with further disbursements.

“The one I thought was most important was United Hospital District’s (UHD) request for a four-in-one analyzer machine,” mayor Rick Scholtes said. “This would enable UHD to have rapid COVID-19 testing available.”

The council passed a motion to allocate $35,000 of the CARES act funds to UHD to purchase the analyzer machine.

Blue Earth police officer Tharen Haugh also attended the meeting to update the council on the 2020 inside-the-city-limits deer hunt.

“We have a smaller group of hunters this year, only 11 people,” Haugh said. “The same rules apply as last year. They will have to shoot a doe first before they can shoot a buck.”

Haugh reported 15 deer were harvested last year, which was the first year of the hunt.

In other business:

The council voted to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) for professional auditing services.

A request by Dave Olson, Michael McNerney and Black Murphy for a permit to hold an outdoor event was approved.

A vote was taken to approve a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for airport improvements (excluding land acquisition). The agreement remains in effect until June 30, 2025, and covers the costs of projects up to $225,570.