Sale of county land is postponedAn attempt sell vacant county-owned land and shift the proceeds for capital improvements to the 911 call center and Health and Human Services facilities revamping was postponed after significant discussion by the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Dec. 4.
By: By Jon Echternacht, New Richmond News
An attempt sell vacant county-owned land and shift the proceeds for capital improvements to the 911 call center and Health and Human Services facilities revamping was postponed after significant discussion by the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Dec. 4.
The resolution included some 545 acres zoned agricultural near New Richmond of which about 500 acres would be sold.
The proposed resolution called for the proceeds to be used for a separate capital projects fund for the relocation of the 911 dispatch center and the “vacating, demolition and clean-up of the Health and Human Services building,” plus relocating the HHS employees.
Administrator Pat Thompson presented the proposal noting that the board had discussed what to do with the vacant property on numerous occasions between 2003 and 2009. “A decision was put on hold for 10 years in 2003 because it would be worth more in the future,” Thompson explained.
Thompson said the time was right because the price of farmland is currently at or near the peak. “It has achieved a value that may not always be there,” he said. The administrator also said the lease to the farmer working 467 acres of the parcel at a price of $101.25 an acre is due to expire at the end of the year.
He said the resolution was necessary because the board had set a policy for proceeds from the sale of county real estate to be applied to debt service unless otherwise directed by the board and recommended an auction sale of the properties.
Thompson presented photos illustrating the need for more space in the 911 center and the deplorable condition of buildings on the HHS site. Some 35 acres of the New Richmond parcel would be held out for county use, possibly to include a new nursing home.
The proposal ignited a long discussion period including responses from two citizens.
Scottie Ard urged the county not to sell the land because once the new bridge across the St. Croix River is completed the land would be more valuable. “Do not rush into this….selling the land that would give us a future,” she said.
Kim Dupre agreed that there is a need at the HHS facilities citing stories of spider nests, ants on her desk and a report of a snake in the building. “There is an emotional attachment to the land because it was the county farm,” she said.
She urged the county against becoming debt free at the expense of citizens.
Several board members criticized vagueness in the resolution and some felt the proposal had been sprung on them in quick order having just learned of it last week.
“I want to sell the county farm land,” said Supervisor Andy Brinkman, “I don’t know if I’m for this (resolution), the vagueness bothers me.”
“I’m not confident that 35 acres set aside is enough for a nursing home,” said Supervisor Buck Malick.
Malick said a month delay to the January meeting wouldn’t hurt and he wanted answers to an established minimum price for the land and minimum space for a nursing home.
Supervisor Dave Peterson said, “A month delay is in order….it is a win-win situation for the county.”
Malick introduced motion to postpone the resolution until the Jan. 8 meeting. The motion passed by a 9-5 margin. Daryl Standafer, Roger Larson, Ron Kiesler, Joe Hurtgen and Brian Hurtgen voted against, Fred Horne, who is also the mayor of New Richmond abstained from all discussion and the vote on the matter, and four supervisors were absent.
The only other order of business on the slate went down much easier. A resolution passed to alter the supervisory district boundaries on the Hudson and town of Hudson line near the hospital expansion by a unanimous 15-0 margin.
The part of District 8 in the township was moved to District 7 in Ward 7 of the city. Without the boundary change, Hudson would have had to create a new ward where nobody lived, said County Clerk Cindy Campbell.
For the complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.