City, school look at tennis court split

BLUE EARTH– The Blue Earth City Council waded through a hefty agenda on Tuesday.

One of the first agenda items tackled was a discussion about the proposed construction of an eight-court tennis facility at Blue Earth Area (BEA) High School.

The city agreed to jointly finance the project with the School District last spring. Per the original agreement, the city would initially finance the project in full, and the School District would reimburse the city for a sizable percentage of the costs at a later date.

Because the city has reached its annual limit on general obligation and abatement bonding, it will need to take out lease revenue bonds to initially fund the project, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million. Through this process, the School District will lease the land at the project site to the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA), and the EDA, in turn, will sublease the land to the city. The lease agreements will expire once the bonds are paid off.

The question facing the council on Feb. 21 was what percentage of the project’s costs they would like to ask the School District to reimburse.

BEA superintendent Mandy Fletcher had informed the School/City Joint Powers Committee it would be feasible for the School District to commit to a 70/30 cost split, with the School District reimbursing the city for 70 percent of the project’s costs.

The council unanimously passed a motion agreeing to a 70/30 split of the project’s cost, and also directed Kennedy to begin working with BakerTilly on the bond requests, contingent on the School Board’s approval of the 70/30 cost split when they meet on Monday, Feb. 27.

In other business, the Blue Earth City Council:

— Voted to move forward with the process of annexing Riverside Heights to the city of Blue Earth. The annexation has proved the most cost-effective method of connecting Riverside Heights to Blue Earth’s sanitary sewer system.

— Unanimously approved the sale of city-owned property at the West Industrial Park to Blue Earth Light and Water (BELW) for $1. BELW intends to construct a new water treatment facility on the property.

— Approved a proposed project for renaming Blue Earth’s Third Ward Park. The Parks and Recreation Committee suggested collaborating with BEA Elementary School so K-5 students may participate in a contest to select the park’s name, with prizes offered to the winning classroom.

— Approved a $2 wage increase for Blue Earth lifeguards and moved to reimburse lifeguards at the end of their season for a $200 New Guard Certification course fee.

— Approved recommended changes to the 2023 Blue Earth Swimming Pool rates. In 2023, babysitter passes will cost $25, lessons for toddlers and preschoolers will cost $25 and one-week private lessons will cost $70.

— Went into closed session to discuss a real estate offer on two lots in the Prairie View Subdivision in the amount of $21,500. The council accepted the offer and directed city attorney David Frund to draft an ordinance conveying the property to the buyer at the next City Council meeting.

— Went into closed session to review an Internal Affairs Investigation Report, about which the council took no action on, at the Feb. 21 meeting.

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