City-approved funds still not enough
The Corcoran City Council unanimously authorized expending park dedication funds help pay for the joint city/Rockford School District varsity baseball field proposed to be constructed at the city’s park.
But the amount approved is well short of what the school district said is necessary for construction to begin.
The council also took action regarding the proposed Maple Hill Community Center.
City administrator Brad Martens updated the council about discussions he’s had with Dist. 883 Supt. Paul Durand.
“The discussion led to a recommendation for the school district to request funds from the city and for the school district to manage the project,” he said.
Martens said the school district is requesting a total of $412,000 from the city, including a $45,000 existing commitment. The money needed would fund a 92-stall paved parking lot, wetland credits, and adding turn lanes on County Rd. 10 (county requirement).
Martens said one proposal was to spread payments for the project over a three-year period.
“We just don’t have it,” he said regarding the district’s request for $412,000 total.
The council debated the cost versus benefit to the community. If the turn lanes weren’t required — which they wouldn’t be less the need for a facility this big — the city’s contribution would total $255,000
Councilor Tom Cossette even wondered how much of a ball park the city would get if it built it’s own facility for the $255,000. “If there’s no need for a field, we’d be doing (the school district) a favor,” he said. “How does $255,000 compare to building our own field?”
Mayor Ken Guenthner responded that there are intangibles in having a joint city/school project.
“It’s hard to value those intangibles,” he said. “By the city committing to the school district, that’s a sign that the school district will invest in our future at the eastern end of the district.”
He said a very visible public project improvement at the city park “serves as synergy for development of property in the surrounding area. We create excitement, momentum and energy. I see it as being a catalyst.”
After a motion was made to commit $70,000 per year for three years, the council continued to discuss its options. Cossette suggested doing an analysis “of what we can afford.” Guenthner suggested an addendum that any financial commitment “can’t be firm until we make a projection.”
Martens later noted that the school board would discuss the matter Jan. 22.
“I think it rests on the school board to see if the commitment made by Corcoran is sufficient to move the project forward,” he said.
The board wants to firm up the numbers so the field can be ready for play next year.
In other matters, administrator Martens updated the council regarding the proposed Maple Hill Community Center — a public construction project at Maple Hill Estates that would be funded by grants, some city contribution and private funding from the Mobile Hope non-profit group.
Mobile Hope would operate the facility, which would be city-owned.
Martens said the apparent low bid was $276,000, and that additional costs/steps are required for completion this year. These include $1,100 for building permit (city portion waived), $1,000 for attorney fees, $6,000 for planning fees (city fees waived) and $12,000 for construction management, bringing the total project costs to $296,000.
Martens said Mobile Hope is requesting the city’s support by approving the project based on a commitment by Mobile Hope to raise funds to fill a $21,000 cost gap; or consideration of taking on the costs for the building permit, attorney, planning and construction management fees.
“I’m not sure I want to commit more city money,” councilor Cossette said.
“We’ve squeezed the budget so far down there’s no fat in it,” councilor Rich Asleson added.
Councilors Ron Thomas and Diane Lynch did say there was a lot of public support for the project. “I do think once it get’s going you’ll find a lot of support from all over the place,” Mayor Guenthner said.
Mobile Hope board chairperson Brian Dejewski said his group is confident that it can secure the funding.
“We need to assign the contract to the contractor,” he said. “Once that’s done we can move forward.”
In other action, the council:
HEARD a Capitol update from Minnesota Sen. Dave Osmek (R-Dist. 33). Osmek said he’s hoping the legislature can undo certain portions of the tax bill, and he spoke of transportation improvements at the Hwy. 55/County Rd. 116 intersection and Interstate 494 improvement project.
HEARD a snow plowing update from public works director Pat Meister. “It’s been a tough winter,” Meister said, adding he is concerned with using two-thirds of a season’s worth of salt supply. The council was complimentary to Meister and his crew for plowing late on Christmas Eve. He also said garbage placement continues to pose complications for plowing efforts. Staff will come back with garbage placement suggestions.