By Lorrie Ham
The St. Bonifacius City Council accepted an offer of $80,000 for the old city hall property during the council’s meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 5. Realtor Jeff Thompson of Coldwell Banker presented the city with a pair of cash offers to consider. The council chose the higher of the two offers.
Thompson originally listed the property on Jan. 2 at a price of $75,000. At a meeting in January, Thompson had presented an offer of $50,000. The council authorized a counter-offer at that time, but that deal went no further.
The council accepted the $80,000 cash offer contingent on a professional property inspection. According to Thompson, the buyer is hoping to close on the sale in March. In the meantime, the city will remove any city-owned property that is still in the building. Proceeds of the sale will go toward the new community center project. Plans are underway to renovate the former public works garage adjacent to city hall into a new community center.
In another matter, Planning Commissioner Mary Bishop addressed the council regarding the recent city entry sign design contest. In a letter to the council, Bishop shared her “disappointment” at the manner in which the contest was handled.
The city’s planning/parks commission invited residents to submit designs for new city entry signs at each end of town along Highway 7 and possibly on County Road 92. The contest ended Dec. 31, 2013, with only two entries submitted, both by Bishop. At a subsequent commission meeting, another entry was presented, past the deadline. Bishop felt that the late entry should not be considered.
During council discussion on the matter, Councilmember Joe Arwood stated that as far as the contest went, Bishop was the clear winner. The prize for the competition winner was a bag of goodies from St. Boni area businesses.
“The only reason I entered was to support the contest,” said Bishop. “I had no interest in the prize.”
“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t receive more entries in the contest,” said Mayor Rick Weible. He went on to say that his son had not entered the contest due to a conflict of interest, but had approached the planning commission about getting involved with the signs as his Eagle Scout project. Weible said that could mean installation or decorative plantings, for example, rather than the actual sign design.
Weible said he thought the commission should review as many sign designs as possible before choosing one to submit to the council. He felt there might be a way to get students from the local school districts to come up with some additional ideas. He also didn’t think there was a rush and suggested that the choices be made available for public review during the 2014 election.
“No place in the rules did it say that the contest winner’s design would become the actual city’s signs,” said Planning Commission Chair Fred Keller. “We are reviewing all the signs that are available to us.”
Keller suggested that the council and commission plan a joint work session to discuss township signage. A workshop was scheduled for Feb. 19, at 6 p.m.
In a related manner, Councilmember Bob Smestad suggested that the city get a bid from the original manufacturer of the existing sign on Highway 7 that has been damaged and see how much it would cost to get it fixed. The council concurred.