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Preston council committed to eminent domain

Fri, Mar 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Kay Ristau made a plea to the Preston City Council at the March 3 meeting to reconsider and rescind their motion of last fall to institute eminent domain proceedings to acquire land for the bicycle trail from Preston to Forestville State Park. The council voted to use eminent domain to acquire access through land owned by John Snyder and Vern and Kay Ristau in Carimona Township.

Ristau asked each of the council members why they think the city should use eminent domain for a recreational trail.

Councilman Robert Sauer explained that this has been going on for ten years spending both time and money. He continued that there hasn't been progress for some time and he sees the need for an impartial person or judge to bring closure to the issue. Jon Haugan added that this was started with a previous council and he sees no other way to come to a resolution.

Mayor Kurt Reicks said that there should be a way to negotiate without eminent domain, but that it hasn't seemed to work. He added that we need to have someone to decide for us. David Harrison suggested that there wouldn't be a trail system without the threat of eminent domain. Heath Mensink added that the problem came before us a couple of years ago and we have hit a wall. Mensink has always maintained that he would vote for eminent domain if no resolution could be found.

Ristau insisted that the trail will not help Preston economically. She claimed that it didn't help Lanesboro. Council members disagreed with that assertion. Kay Ristau held up a pile of papers and said that there were over 850 signatures from people that are against the use of eminent domain for recreational purposes. Mensink said that the people he has talked to are 4 to 1 in favor of getting a trail to Forestville.

Carimona Township Board Chairman Arlyn Hovey asked the council to consider the words "liberty and justice for all" in the Pledge of Allegiance. He insisted that to take property that hasn't been offered is not justice. He suggested that the issue is going to create a divisiveness between the city and the rural area. Hovey said state spending is out of control and tax payer money would be better spent on smoother roads.

Vern Ristau claimed that the bickering is hurting the city, innocent people with businesses in town and the people in the country. A resolution was passed by the township on this issue in 2000.

David Joerg was asked if the other twenty landowners have been paid. He assured them that they have been paid for those acres. Joerg refused to say who actually paid the twenty landowners that have already sold land for the trail. He said that he would talk to the Ristaus, Snyders, and others after the meeting.

Reicks asked if there was a motion to rescind the motion. None was made. No further action was taken.

The families and Joerg discussed the issue further out in the hall while the council dealt with the rest of their agenda.

Street Equipment

Public Works Director Bill Cox discussed five options for the city's motor grader including: 1)replacement with a used one for $60,000 to $128,000 lasting possibly 20 to 30 years, 2)replace with new dump truck with wing for about $118,000, 3)subcontract gravel grading for $2,800 to $3,600 per year, 4)replace wing on current grader with used wing for as little as $500, or 5)do nothing. Cox explained that there are a number of aging pieces of equipment owned by the city. He suggested buying the used wing for $500 and hoping to get a few more years out of the grader.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman said that about $25,000 is put aside each year for equipment purchases. By consensus the council agreed to buy the used wing for the grader for $500.

Cox is looking into possibilities for replacing the street sweeper. He also stressed a need to keep the back hoe and pickup with plow in reliable condition as they are used heavily.

Charitable Gambling

Joe Hoffman said that he had spoken to Bill Hansen at the B & B Bowl and that he was interested in using a small organization for the pull tabs, so that considerably more dollars could go to local causes. Hoffman added that it will take about 4 months for a new organization to be licensed. The council hopes to get an agreement with Community Charities for another six months instead of the normal two years to give a smaller organization time to get licensed.

A resolution was approved for a new two year contract for charitable gambling with Maple Leaf Services at the Serviceman's Club. Hoffman said that all proceeds are spent in Fillmore County.

Other Business

• The city agreed to accept the donation of Maxine Linstroth's property in Corn Cob Acres. Gene Voight explained that his mother no longer lives in Preston and that MnDot took the remainder of the lot leaving a small pie shaped lot of no value. Hoffman said that it was not a developable lot. The city accepted the lot and will pay the fees totaling $47.65 to transfer ownership.

• The council accepted the agreement with Fillmore County for the ambulance service. The county pays the city $4,500 for the year.

• Hoffman informed the council that the EDA will propose that the city hire their own consultant rather than contracting for an EDA person. He expects the cost to be the same. A motion was approved to end the relationship with the Southeast Minnesota Development Corporation.

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