Cologne council looks to acquire land

Cologne City Council members approved a bid to acquire property at 401 Benton Street on Monday, June 5. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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Seeking to invest in the city and encourage development, Cologne City Council members put in a $280,000 bid for a property located at 401 Benton Street.
The 4.25-acre property is up for sale because the owners, the Kleins, are deceased and the children are looking to sell the property.
While the property has been discussed before with the city and Carver County Community Development Agency, Cologne council members approved a bid on Monday, June 5, and hope to acquire the property and then work on an agreement with the CDA and also developing a financing strategy.
“The CDA made an offer back that the Kleins declined and from there it fizzled out,” said Dickson. “Now that it’s for sale, we had a request for appraisal to do the same thing again.”
Should the property become available, Dickson said that talks with CDA have resumed to pick up some type of senior housing project that would involve five to six duplex-style senior houses.
“Senior housing is something we desperately need in Cologne,” said Dickson. “This would be intended for that.”
While they discussed the actual bid price during a closed session, council members, including Mayor Matt Lein, weighed the positives and negatives of the property before going forward with the bid.
“We’ve never had a chunk of property like this,” said Lein. “There could be some reward with the view of Benton Lake.”
Council member Kyle Evenski, stressing he was in favor of the project, did question whether the 401 Benton Street location was ideal and also whether the large amount of funds could be spent elsewhere that would have a greater benefit.
Evenski and others agreed that it is not often property becomes available in the city and the potential partnership with Carver County CDA is too beneficial to pass up.
“This is the only option we have at this moment in time and the only option explored as far as it has been,” said Lein.
In terms of financing, Dickson has had some early discussions with Springsted that could lead to the establishment of a tax increment financing district as well as a variety bond payments.
In other news, council members also approved a $7,318 contract with Wickenhauser Excavating for the replacement of a collapsed culvert attached to Benton Lake.
City Administrator Jesse Dickson explained that the culvert, located on the north side of Benton Lake, collapsed about two months ago.
He added that fixing the culvert is a prerequisite for the carp kill, that was originally set to take place last winter, but was delayed to fall.
“This is a somewhat important piece of infrastructure and plays an important part of the carp kill,” he said.
Responding to council members’ concerns, Dickson said that the culvert would have needed to be replaced as a regular maintenance item without the upcoming carp kill.
Council members also approved a payment of $2,317.50 to Braun Intertec Corporation for part of the water treatment facility, OK’d a payment of $408,088.67 to Di-Mar Construction for part of the water treatment facility and approved $5,689 to Minnesota Plumbing and Heating for the replacement of a surge valve.
The Cologne City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 19.

Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.