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Land swap seems like a good idea

By Staff | Mar 25, 2012

At the very tail end of last Monday’s Blue Earth City Council meeting was a brief report concerning ongoing negotiations between the city and the Faribault County Fair Board.

It involves a land swap proposal.

On the surface, that idea of swapping some of the land at the fairgrounds seems like a good idea.

I have written about this before, but it bears some repeating.

A question always arises as to who owns what when it comes to that area of land loosely referred to as the fairgrounds.

Imagine my chagrin four years ago or so when I made a big gaffe in the paper. Well, perhaps it wasn’t all that large of a boo boo, but it seemed so at the time.

I referred to parts of the fairgrounds as belonging to the fair board. If I remember correctly, I was referring specifically to the grandstand.

Someone gently and very nicely pointed out to me that the fair board does not own the grandstand. In fact, they don’t own most of the property on which the fair is held each year.

The city of Blue Earth does. In fact, it is considered a city park.

I was surprised to say the least. It was just a natural assumption on my part that the fair board would own the fairgrounds. But I was in error.

Wait, wait. There is more.

The property the fair board does own is to the east of the road that comes in from across the entrance to Walmart. That is the road that comes in alongside the former go kart track area and heads to the Faribault County Fitness Center.

Most of the property involves a field used for a parking area, the horse barn and the horse arena.

Oh yes, and also the Giant Park land and the very spot the Giant statue is located.

That is correct. The city owns the land the fair board uses and the fair board owns the land the city uses for the Giant statue.

Somehow the fair board ended up owning all the land east of the main fair grounds area and used it for parking during the fair time.

They also worked out a lease agreement with the city to use the one part as a park and to place the Giant statue so that it would be near the interstate.

Seems logical that the statue should be in a place that allows easy access for all of those visitors who stop in off the freeway to see the big guy.

Another interesting fact. I was under the assumption that the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce owned the Green Giant statue. Turns out that is not true either. The city owns it.

What the chamber owns, so I have been informed, is the base upon which the statue stands, and the Little Red Barn tourist information station.

Confused? Me too. But wait. There is still more.

While the city owns most of the fairgrounds, the fair board owns many of the buildings located on it.

In fact, other entities also own some buildings there such as Trinity Lutheran Church owning their food stand, the Faribault County Historical Society owning their buildings, etc.

Over the years the city has allowed these buildings to be placed on the fairgrounds an area that is essentially a city park.

Now there is a discussion going on to perhaps solve some of these strange, odd inconsistencies in property ownership.

The land swap being discussed at this time involves the city gaining ownership of the Giant Park area, while the city would give the fair board the land that currently has the grandstand and the former go kart track on it.

Oh yes, and the grandstand itself would become fair board property.

The grandstand is going to need some upgrading in the future, and the City Council has been hesitant to invest in it at this time.

Now, if they give it to the fair, they can take care of it.

The land swap would also include the property where the fair board recently constructed the new Veterans Memorial building.

But, it would not include the baseball fields or any other of the land.

At least not at this time.

It seems like a reasonable deal. And city officials seem to favor it. They call it a win-win situation for both parties.

The city and the fair board will each wind up owning something that everyone already thinks they do own.

There is another benefit here as well.

The swap will clear up my previous mistakes in the past.

Now when I write that the fair board owns the grandstand I will be correct. Ditto for saying the city owns Giant Park.