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City no longer a partner in Lanesboro Center for the Arts

Fri, Apr 11th, 2003
Posted in Features

With a full council in attendance, the Lanesboro City Council rescinded an earlier motion from March 2002 and withdrew from involvement with the Lanesboro Center for the Arts. The action, which took place at the councils regular meeting on April 7, means that the city will no longer seek the $1 million in bonding approved by the Minnesota Legislature for the project..

The city had originally agreed to have a separate, independent Lanesboro Center for the Arts Board, made up of five city representatives and four representatives from arts groups involved in the project. But earlier this year, a new proposal was made where the LCA would be wholly made up of arts members with the citys Economic Development Authority (EDA) acting as a liaison between the city and the Center for the Arts.

Council member Joe OConnor stated that some of the members of the EDA wondered if the task would be too big for the authority to handle. Council member Peggy Hanson commented, "Early on I think there would be a lot of work." Although some of the council were concerned about possible expense of the project, they were assured that any costs incurred could be reimbursed to the city from the legislative grant. In a split vote, the council decided to end involvement in the project. Council member Jerome Halvorson joined OConnor and Hanson in ending the project. Council members Kevin Drake and Mayor Steve Rahn voted in opposition.

Later in the evening, the council rescinded another motion. On March 3, 2003, the council had voted to purchase a new backhoe contingent on the public utilities paying for half of the cost. The Public Utilities Commission chose not to trade in the backhoe because they felt other equipment needed replacement more. City Manager Barb Hoyhtya presented the council research showing that the city would be better off financially if they kept the backhoe longer, providing good maintenance for it. In light of the current budget constraints, the council opted to keep the old backhoe.

Still with an eye on the budget, the council decided not to commit to funding a proposed EDA position. Money not spent on the position will be absorbed in the general account. Joe OConnor pointed out that this was "not necessarily a money question but a support question." Peggy Hanson added, "that (the support) may change as the Chamber of Commerce takes a leadership role. The fact that we are expecting major revenue shortfalls changes everything."

Church Hill Redevelopment

Northcountry Cooperative Foundation representatives wrote a letter to the council concerning the Church Hill School property and alley. Northcountry has a purchase agreement on the property and is proposing the creation of a fifteen-unit housing cooperative. They are asking the city to vacate both the existing platted alley and the alley as currently used to make their project possible. The comment was made that this appears to be a serious developer which works with many non-profit corporations. Acknowledging that this is a sensitive topic for people in the community, the council decided they need to know more before making a decision. Northcountry will be invited to come and discuss the topic with the council.

Other business

In other business the council:

heard from Julie Kiehne of the Chamber of Commerce about plans for the May 3 celebration for Highway 16 as a National Scenic Byway. Plans include city garage sales, sidewalk sales, commemorative stamps, information bags with Lanesboro promotion coupons, and lunch in the park;

heard from John Davis about the Kids Philosophy Slam to be held on April 26 at the Community Center. The council proclaimed the week of April 21-27 Philosophy Week in Lanesboro;

accepted all five applicants (Donald Wangen, John Tuff, David Drake, Dave Huisenga, and Luther Olson) to the newly formed street commission;

accepted Don Wangens offer to volunteer one day a week to help mow city property;

approved room rental licenses for sixteen establishments in the city, stating that the establishments need to pay lodging tax or the city may rescind the licenses; and,

requested that City Attorney Tom Manion proceed in getting clear title to the cheese factory property.

The meeting was closed to discuss personnel issues and to do the police chief ninety-day review.

Wanda Hanson can be contacted at news@fillmorecountyjournal.com

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