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Rushford moves projects, motel forward

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Nov 1st, 2013
Posted in Rushford Government

It’s been a long road for several underway Rushford projects. Time delays, special agreements, and plan modification have hampered at least two, but both projects are now moving favorably forward.

Not wanting to further hinder the wait time on the development of the downtown motel, Loken’s Rushford Inn, the council approved the authorization of the signing of the final documents pertaining to a business subsidy development agreement. In something of a catch-22, the city approved the review contingent on an expectant letter from the bank financing the project. Had the city not approved the measure, and the letter been provided shortly thereafter, motel developers would have to wait once again to gain council approval for the documents at the November 11 meeting.

“We can’t loan the money until the bank approves, but we don’t want to hold it up if the bank approves it,” noted City Administrator Steve Sarvi. “This allows the paperwork to move forward.”

The document includes a loan agreement, promissory note, mortgage, security agreement, guarantee agreement and transfer of ownership paperwork, but the legal documents and financial information must be provided in order to fill the contingency and allow the project to continue.

The city has also approved a Planning Commission recommendation for Loken’s Rushford Inn site plan review. Final construction and architectural plans have not yet been received from Kane & Johnson Architects, Inc. and several areas of the review need further clarification or correction. According to city staff, Lokens have hired a civil engineer to assist with some work areas. As previously mentioned, this approval upon contingency will keep the ball moving forward on the project.

Also moving forward are plans for sanitary sewer and water utilities to the Jon Dammen property on the north end of the city. Now court-ordered to correct the faulty system, Dammen earlier petitioned the city for the utilities after years of back and forth debate on the issue. Final plans and specifications by Otomo Engineering have been approved, however legal descriptions and a special assessement agreement with Dammen are still pending. Work may be performed yet this fall.

Josh DeFrang, of Otomo Engineering, was on hand at the Monday, October 28 council meeting to explain changes to the plan and progress of the project to date. According to DeFrang, the line has shifted slightly to the north to gain coverage over sanitary mains. An issue on assessment to a property of unknown ownership is still in the works as determination of who actually owns the 30 foot gap of land is continued. The city may claim the piece if no owner can be found through public notice and hearing or create a special zone as opposed to assessing at all it. “We may not figure out who owns it, but we’ll figure out how to deal with it,” said Sarvi.

With the plans approved, the project can be sent out for construction bids. “This is a court-ordered issue, so we’re in a time crunch,” said Public Works Director Jeff Copley.

The question of having public works handle the project was shot down quickly by Sarvi. “The tolerance on the project is pretty tight. We prefer to have a contractor do it so we can hold them accountable.” All bids will come back to council for review and final authorization.

In other news, the city has been selected as a 2013 Legacy Destination by Conservation Minnesota and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Ten cities from across the state were selected for the honor. Rushford’s accolades came in recognition for use of Legacy funding for the recent bike trail project. In all, eight grants have been provided to the community, whether the city, school district, or local organizations, during 2013, totaling $200,455.

“Each year we single out a handful of communities who seem to be embracing the true spirit of the Legacy Amendment,” said Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota. “And by looking at the cross-section of arts and outdoor projects that have been helped by the amendment in the previous year, it is clear that this year, Rushford deserves that recognition.”

“When we looked at which cities around the state were doing great work in utilizing the Legacy Amendment, Rushford stood out,” added Sheila Smith, Executive Director for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, in a statement. “Be it support for the Rushford Area Society of the Arts, or connecting the Root River Trail to Rushford, the city is really benefitting from the passage of this amendment.”

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, November 11, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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