What is the best use of the land?
The Blue Earth City Council finds itself with a big problem; one that it might take the wisdom of King Solomon to solve.
I refer, of course, to the fact that there are now two groups who have an interest in the property at the fairgrounds that has been a go kart racing track for many years.
The group operating the track has notified the city they will no longer be operating a track.
Now, two other groups have stepped in with proposals for use of the property.
One is the Blue Earth Youth Baseball Association, which would like the city to build a third baseball field there.
Actually, city councilman Rick Scholtes has been a proponent of this all along, saying that it was a ball field originally, and the agreement was that if the track ever quit, it would be put back into a ball field again.
Both Brent Legred of the baseball association and Rob Norman of the Blue Earth Area Schools gave powerful presentations at the last City Council meetings about the need for another field in town.
Baseball fever is growing in Blue Earth. And, they had the stats to back up that claim.
Meanwhile, the Faribault County Fair Board also gave good reasons for their need for the area which sits in front of the grandstands.
They also see a real need for using that area, in order to keep holding big events at the fair. Plus, they see having a ball field there as harming the fair, and its potential growth.
And, they have been involved in negotiations with the city already to own that property in a land swap deal that would give them ownership of it, while the city would get ownership of the land where the Green Giant Park and statue are located.
Both of the two proposals sound reasonable and would put the property to good use.
Like I said, the council is going to need the wisdom of Solomon to decide this. Perhaps they should offer to split the land in half and see which group offers to let the other to have it whole, much as Solomon did in saying he was going to cut the baby in half.
Perhaps there is enough land there to do both projects. But that is doubtful, officials say.
Now, I am no Solomon, but here is what I would do.
First, the fair board should probably be awarded the land, for several reasons.
First, they need it in order to continue to operate grandstand events and grow those events in the future.
Secondly, they already have been negotiating a land swap that seems to benefit both them and the city. Why in heavens name the fair board owns land the city uses and the city owns land the fair uses is a complicated question, but this swap would solve several problems for both entities.
And third, the fair board would remove the kart track and lights at no expense to the city. The city, at the moment, has very little funding available to do this, and no funding earmarked for any ball diamond in this current year or next year’s budget.
Now, before all you ball field proponents grab your buckets of tar and bags of feathers and head down to the Register office, let me explain further.
Brent Legred, Rob Norman and Rick Scholtes have more than demonstrated a need for at least one more ball diamond.
So, the city should put into place a plan to build one. And, figure out how it can be funded.
While I am no expert, I think a nice spot for it would be behind the high school. There is one there already, but it needs work.
First, that one should be fixed up and made useable, then the city and the school could combine forces and build a second one there. Yes, that’s right. Fix the one and build another.
That would give baseball teams two fields at the fairgrounds and two at the school for use. All four would be within walking distance of each other and within walking distance of the motels and restaurants that out of town tournament visitors would use.
Second, the city should also find the funds to finish off the softball complex on 14th Street.
They have talked about it for some time. And if they are going to budget for one, might as well budget for two new diamonds.
That is my two cents worth. What the city will actually do is anyone’s guess. And when they will finally make a decision on this is also yet to be determined.