The city of Watertown is continuing to engage in discussions with Trinity Lutheran Church regarding the possibility of purchasing the land that currently makes up Madison-Green Park.
That 1.5-acre parcel, located at the intersection of Madison Street and Green Avenue, is owned by the church, but has been leased to the city for the last 25 years. The city handles all maintenance.
However, it has long been part of the church’s plans to sell the park in order to raise capital for its series of building projects that it recently started.
“It’s always been our intent that the city have the first opportunity to purchase it, because we do wish and desire for it to remain a park,” Trinity Church Council President Adam Rowan told the city council during its Nov. 26 meeting.
The issue was first presented to the city council in closed session on July 9, and has been discussed in closed session on several occasions since then as well. Minnesota’s open meetings laws allow public meetings to be closed to discuss property transactions. The discussions during last Tuesday’s council meeting were the first time the issue was discussed in open session.
Watertown resident Mike Crom, who lives near the park on Nixon Avenue, spoke during the meeting in favor of the city pursuing the option to purchase the park. However, he did offer a suggestion as well.
“I’ve been driving by that park since its inception, long before it was even there,” Crom told the council. “It’s well used, but only the corner where the actual playground is now, where the trees are planted. My suggestion is to look just at (buying) that corner. That is the most used part of it.”
Councilor Steve Washburn voiced his support for continuing to negotiate a purchase agreement for the park, and Councilor Mike Walters also expressed interest during the meeting. Walters said he would favor looking at options to look at purchasing half the park, but wouldn’t discount the idea of purchasing the whole park.
In the end, the council directed city staff to continue to negotiate a potential deal for either the whole park or a portion of it, depending on the valuation of the land. The council made it clear that it was not committing to purchase the park, and that any deal potentially reached would need to come back to the city council for review and possible approval.
Contact Matt Bunke at firstname.lastname@example.org