Cologne considers UFC expansion project, mill building

by ADAM GRUENEWALD
NYA Times

Cologne City Council members want to make sure businesses know they are welcome to develop and grow in their city.
Revisiting a project from their last council meeting, council members sent a message loud and clear to United Farmers Cooperative (UFC) on Tuesday, Feb. 17. UFC, which has merged with Waconia Farm Supply, has expressed interest in expanding into Cologne with a $4.5 million expansion project for the Cologne Mill. Scheduled to begin in 2014 and be completed in 2015, plans call for a new scale on Mill Avenue and increases jobs in Cologne to 20 employees.
At question was the presence of a historic antique store. Council members have assured UFC they are backing the project and have contacted the Carver County Historical Society regarding the potential move of the building. UFC officials have said they would gladly give the building to the city, but their plans do not involve the building.
Council member Jeff McInnis said ensuring continued support of businesses is important.
“We want businesses to know that we will let them invest in our town and come here,” he said. “We’re not going to make it hard for a business to expand and grow.”
Council member Scott Williams agreed.
“We always talk about trying to improve Main Street,” he said. “This is a step in that way. You look at Waconia, you look at some other towns at what they have torn down and rebuilt.”
While no vote was taken, Mayor Matt Lein and the council agreed they would work with UFC to agree on a timeline to find a solution.
The council also had several discussions related to Cologne Academy’s proposed expansion project.
Previous discussions raised concern over the shared parking lot, and while City Attorney Larry Harris drew up a detailed agreement, council members requested the document be redone to focus specifically on liability concerns.
Related to that was a discussion on pricing for events at the Cologne Community Center.
Hendel said the city doesn’t have a “good policy” for events right now in terms of groups renting the gym. While the city will continue to prioritize weddings, Hendel requested council members think about costs for different events including school concerts, school dramas, school assemblies, graduation parties, Bingo events, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts events, 4-H clubs and other uses at different hourly or total rates on different days of the week.
Per an agreement, the Lions Club, VFW and the Cologne Fire Department are granted one free event per year and the city, understandably, does not charge itself.
They also discussed the potential sale of the old city shed, which has been valued at $45,000. Hendel said he has received interest regarding the purchase of the shed, which is located near Fritz Field.
Currently the rundown shed is used as cold storage, and the sale of it would likely be used towards the purchase of a newer heated shed near the current Public Works building.
“If we rebuilt this and added heat, maybe concrete on part of it, staff would not have to do all of the winter changeovers for everything,” said Hendel of the changes of lawn mower and other equipment. “It would also put everything in one location.”
In other news, council members approved the lease of a postage machine for the city at the cost of $46.68 a month, agreed to sell a not needed 1989 Chevy  half-ton pickup and 1973 Ford F-750 truck and revisited discussion on the official logo for the City of Cologne before tabling the item.
The Cologne City Council will next meet on Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m.

Contact Adam Gruenewald at adam.gruenewald@ecm-inc.com.

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