Tennis courts

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Volleys crossed the net at the regular Blue Earth City Council meeting on Monday, September 20. Council members again discussed the construction of new tennis courts at Blue Earth Area High School.

Following meetings with the Tennis Courts Subcommittee, City Manager Mary Kennedy presented project updates to council.

Regarding the proposed arrangement of the new courts, Kennedy explained, “The subcommittee has spoken at length. For reasons of training and spectators, a configuration with four quads was chosen.

The committee’s preferred layout will include a dedicated spectator visualization between the courts, allowing the facility to be surrounded by a 10-foot fence to block the wind.

The tennis court subcommittee and Kennedy also received a memo from Doug Green, director of Bakertilly Municipal Advisors, which provides municipal advisory services to local governments. Green’s analysis offered several options for tennis court financing.

“There are basically four options that could pay for something like this,” Kennedy shared with the board.

Options include General Duty Referendum Bonds, General Duty Reduction Bonds, Rental Income Bonds, and Gross Income Leisure Bonds.

While Kennedy said the city would be unlikely to receive approval for a general bond referendum bond, she acknowledged that the second option of a general bond reduction fund would normally be the best route. to be continued.

“It would be the best option, but it is not an option” Kennedy explained. “Right now we’re at our limit. We might consider paying off the fitness center bonds to open up our limits, but ultimately that will put us in the same situation we are now, with the limit.

Therefore, the board weighs the pros and cons of pursuing rental income obligations against gross income leisure obligations.

“The rental income obligations go through the EDA (Economic Development Authority) and are concluded with the bank. They are a bit riskier, and they may not be marketable ”,Kennedy shared. “They are risky because future boards of directors (EDAs) might not vote to pay for it. Every year it must be appropriate.

As for the last option, Kennedy said, “Gross income recreational obligations may not be legally valid. They could come forward legally if we had some sort of cost-sharing arrangement, but it depends on whether the lawyers are approved or not.

Kennedy added that it is possible to seek grants to mitigate the costs of the project, but they would not cover the full cost of the project.

Kennedy concluded, “There are options, but there are things we really need to consider. It won’t be as black and white as other projects we’ve done in the past.

One million dollars is the estimated starting point of the total cost of the project.

The city is working with the Blue Earth Area School District to fund the courts.

“The city has entered into a cost-sharing agreement with the school district”,Kennedy explained.

Part of the arrangement involves the demolition of the tennis courts in Putnam Park, which are under the jurisdiction of the city.

The Parks and Recreation subcommittee recommended that council authorize Bolton and Menk to immediately begin the necessary feasibility studies and prepare cost analyzes for the demolition of the Putnam Park grounds.

The committee wishes to redevelop the space into a multi-court sports space, including a tennis court, a basketball court and pickleball courts.

There was some disagreement over methods of funding both the construction at Putnam Park and the construction of the new high school tennis courts.

Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested, “If we’re doing this and we’re going to have to bond, I’d like to link Putnam Park to this (the tennis court project).”

He added, “We have no money in the bank. We have to tie in what’s going on here to make it affordable for every party. “

Council member Glenn Gaylord, who has always had doubts about the tennis court project, replied: “We’re talking about two different levels of risk. One is not even our own project. I like the idea of ​​linking for this, but I would like it to be separated somehow ”,

Scholtes replied, “But then you pay twice,”referring to the costs incurred by the issue of bonds.

Scholtes, in support of the activation of the two projects, concluded, “It’s a benefit for our community.

“It’s a risk for our community”Gaylord responded.

The board made no concrete decisions regarding the funding on Monday evening, agreeing to consider the matter for future discussion.

Other matters discussed by the board on September 20 included:

• Draft budget for 2022. Council approved setting the total levy at $ 1,896,074.40, a figure that is comfortably within the 10% increase range. The Council hopes to reduce the levy to a 3% increase before the final levy is certified on December 20.

• An update on the Three Sisters project. Council member Ann Hanna asked if the project had received the necessary permits for construction, as she did not see the permits posted on the site. City attorney David Frundt said it was possible the project had received a state permit, in which case the authorization would not have to operate across the city.

• A letter concerning the toilets at the exhibition center which was sent to the town hall. The letter stated that the toilets in the stands are “A shame,”and asked that council allocate funds to renovate them.

Scholtes explained that unfortunately the toilets are not owned by the city and as such the council is unable to do anything to fix the problem. He advised the anonymous author of the letter to contact the Fair Board so that further action can be taken.

• Updates to street improvement projects that will be completed throughout 2022. City engineer Wes Brown, of Bolton and Menk, explained that two blocks on Galbraith Street are in poor condition and require repair. more immediate attention. As such, they were added as projects for the next year.

To balance costs, improvements that were planned for the 10th Street and 11th Street blocks have been postponed, theoretically, until 2023.


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