The source of funding in the amount of $320,000 from the city was identified at the June 18 city council meeting. The funds will cover the land purchase and the cash donation to be included in the application so the veterans home can be entered into the federal queue in April 2019.
City Administrator Joe Hoffman explained there had been a conference call with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) Tuesday, June 12, and they requested that the land for the veterans home and local donations be transferred to the state as soon as possible. This will allow the local contributions to be recognized in the federal application to ensure they are matched 2:1 with federal funds.
The state will not proceed with the application to be entered into the federal queue until the land is in the state’s name. If the city withheld its cash donation until construction it would not be matched 2:1 with federal funds.
There was more discussion about where access to the home site should be. Mayor Kurt Reicks noted the option to purchase calls for 15 acres more or less. The home will be located on top, which is nine acres; this leaves about six acres to work with.
Councilman Charles Sparks insisted there isn’t a need for a city through street. The MDVA should be allowed to develop the site the way they think it should be. A motion was unanimously approved to exercise the option to purchase the 15 acres from Robert Doherty which will include an access from the north. An easement will be sought from Cecil Anderson to get access from the south.
The city paid Doherty $15,000 to extend the option, which goes toward the purchase price of $210,000 when the option is exercised. City staff had been asked by Mayor Reicks to come up with options to fund the $195,000 left on the purchase price and the $125,000 cash donation that was pledged by the council.
The $320,000 will come from several sources including: Minnesota Investment Fund savings, EDA operating, EDA development funds, city contingency funds, and a transfer of a portion of street maintenance funds.
The funding sources as presented which totaled $320,000 were approved. There will be an in person meeting attended by Hoffman, Greg Davids, Robert Maust and Ron Scheevel with MDVA in St. Cloud next week.
Other Business in brief
• Foremost Farms requested a variance at 220 St. Paul St. SW to add a 70-foot tall milk silo tank in the alley between the 100 West blocks of River St. and Main St. The 50,000 gallon silo will replace a 3,000 gallon tank. Planning and Zoning recommended approval. Hoffman said there has been no public feedback. City code requires a 20-foot setback. The variance is for a zero-foot setback. The variance was approved. Hoffman said he was thrilled Foremost Farms was investing in the community.
• Ambulance Director Ryan Throckmorton explained his effort for a Public Access automated external defibrillator (AED) program. The program will use a surplus AED. The intention is to loan it out at no cost to the public for a family event or other community group gathering. A case, pads and batteries were funded by the Preston Community Foundation at a cost of $350. An application/agreement was developed with input from the League of Minnesota Cities. Throckmorton said it will be sent to the city attorney for final review. Applications will be handled through city hall. The application and program were approved pending city attorney review.
• There was more discussion on the tax forfeited property in the 300 block of St. Paul St. SW, Preston Oil Products, Inc. Hoffman had consulted with Craig Britton, a Petrofund consultant, to get more information. The site is not currently listed as a contaminated site, although it very likely is. Hoffman explained the city could request permission from the county to remove the tanks, four are listed in the data base, at the city’s expense. Then the city could have testing done to establish the extent of contamination. Hoffman said this would let us know the extent of contamination before purchasing.
Sparks favored requesting an additional six months from the county to withhold sale or lease of the parcel to give the city time to figure things out.
Councilmen Maust and David Collett were not in favor of purchasing the property or spending anything on it. Sparks argued there is no incentive for anyone else to clean it up if the city doesn’t do it. Hoffman asked if we want to allow a possibly contaminated site in our community, which would be a public health hazard.
Hoffman said if the tanks were taken out of service prior to December 22, 1988, the state would pay for removal and a limited amount of clean up through the Abandoned Tank Program.
A motion was approved to direct the staff to send a letter to the county auditor requesting the parcel be withheld from sale or lease from others for six months and to get permission to remove the tanks. Maust and Collett voted no.